Source: Fars News Agency
Japan showed its rejection of a French demand for a boycott of Iranian oil imports in action after it supplied 7.7% of its oil needs from Iran in October.
Last week, Japan was asked by France to join in an import ban on Iranian oil, but Tokyo was unlikely to do so, although it was yet to send its response, a government official said.
"We need to be very careful in making such a decision, given that our priority is securing energy supply in the aftermath of the massive earthquake" in March, an official from the Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs told Dow Jones.
According to figures from the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI), Iran provided 7.7% of total Japanese crude oil imports in October 2011.
The METI report said that refiners and trading companies imported 8.138 million barrels of crude oil from Iran in October, suggesting that Japanese sanctions against Iran didn't affect its crude shipments.
This puts Iran in the 4th place in the list of crude providers to Japan in October, standing after Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Qatar.
Japan's fossil fuel demand has risen as utilities have boosted thermal power generation to cover the shortfall left by nuclear reactors idles following the devastating March earthquake and tsunami.
Oil rose towards $110 a barrel on Friday as the US and its western allies discussed sanctions on Iran although a hot debate over embargos on Iranian oil supplies at the European Union failed to produce any result on Thursday.
Despite long hues and cries about new sanctions against Iran, the EU and US could only enlist some more Iranian officials in their sanctions list on Thursday. Several members of the European bloc voiced opposition to any sanction on Iranian oil, pushing France, the most hawkish EU member, back.
Crisis-hit Greece has said 'No' to an EU oil ban on Iran, causing relief among other member states. Britain and France, the most hawkish EU countries, failed to convince other member states to impose oil embargos on Iran.
The developments took place at an EU foreign ministers' meeting in Brussels on Thursday.
French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe said that Greece, which relies on Iranian oil, had objected to a ban on buying it. "Greece has put forward a number of reservations," Juppe said. "We have to take that into account."
Iran is a major energy exporters and presides of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC).
Brent crude rose 78 cents to $109.77 a barrel by 0929 GMT, after settling down $1.53 at $108.99 on Thursday. US crude climbed 51 cents to $100.71.
The prospect of disruption to Iran's oil supplies remained in focus, possibly as a pre-emptive move by Iran.
"The political process (to impose sanctions) will take time, but if Iran sees a loss of income as inevitable, there is a greater risk that it takes what limited political and economic capital it has to the negotiating table by invoking a pre-emptive export ban," analysts at JP Morgan said in a report.
While such a move was likely to trigger the release of strategic reserves, the initial market shock could boost prices by $20 to $30 a barrel, the report said.
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