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July 21, 2017

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Japan bill to insure Iran oil imports passes lower house

TOKYO -- Japan's lower house passed a bill on Friday to provide government guarantees on insurance for Iranian crude cargoes, a key step towards it becoming the first of Iran's big Asian oil buyers to get round new European Union sanctions.

The bill will now be sent to the upper house, where opposition parties have the majority but have signaled their support. It will become law by around June 27 if passed before the current parliamentary session ends next Thursday, said a government official who requested anonymity.

The Japanese government, which has succeeded in getting a waiver from U.S. financial sanctions, wants to provide coverage of up to US$7.6 billion for each tanker carrying Iranian crude bound for Japan in the event of accidents.

An EU ban on member countries importing Iranian oil takes effect on July 1 and includes a ban on EU insurance firms from covering Iran's exports. That is a headache for Japan, South Korea, China and India, which together buy two thirds of Iran's oil exports and rely on EU companies to insure them.

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