Japan imported U.S. oil for the first time in four years as companies find ways around a four-decade ban on American exports and the Asian nation seeks to cut its dependence on Middle East suppliers.
Japan, which relies on Saudi Arabia for 33 percent of its supply, imported about 300,000 barrels of oil from the U.S. last month, the first shipments since at least June 2010, according to data from the Ministry of Finance. Cosmo Oil Co. last month received the country’s first cargo of U.S. condensate, a lightly processed form of crude, Katsuhisa Maeda, a Tokyo-based company spokesman, said today.
A surplus of light, sweet crude from shale formations has boosted U.S. production to the highest in more than three decades and spurred exports. That’s reshaping decades-old trading routes and helping Asian refiners diversify away from some members of OPEC, which meets today amid speculation the group is losing influence in global oil markets.
“The exports of processed condensate to Asia increases regional supply to the benefit of refiners who can then diversify their sources of crude oil,” said Andy Lipow, president of Lipow Oil Associates LLC, an energy consulting firm in Houston. “I expect the U.S. will be exporting close to 300,000 barrels per day of processed condensate by the end of 2015.”