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Kuwait oil min says looking to import Iranian natural gas Crude oil exports to Japan down 35% in April

KUWAIT CITY, June 2, (Agencies): Kuwait’s oil minister said his country was looking to sign an agreement with Iran to secure much-needed natural gas supplies. The minister’s comments to the state news agency KUNA late on Sunday came on the sidelines of a visit by Kuwait’s amir to Iran, the first by a ruler of the US-allied Gulf Arab state since the 1979 Islamic revolution. “Iran has large quantities of gas and Kuwait is in need of Iranian gas through cooperation between the two countries,” KUNA quoted Ali Saleh al-Omair as saying while in Tehran. The oil-rich OPEC producer lined up $15 billion worth of gas supply from BP and Royal Dutch Shell last month to help meet soaring demand. Kuwait also signed a contract to import liquified natural gas (LNG) from fellow Gulf state Qatar to help meet its energy needs to the end of 2014 in April. Iran sealed a preliminary agreement to export gas to the Gulf state of Oman in March, after an agreement dating back to 2005 was revived during a visit of Iranian President Hassan Rouhani to the capital Muscat. Demand for gas in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) states is rising on the back of growing populations and an industrial boom.

Deal
Still, some analysts have said that Iran, which holds the world’s largest gas reserves, is unlikely to provide a quick supply fix for gas-hungry Gulf states, even if it reaches a deal with world powers over its nuclear programme and sanctions are lifted. Iran has been prevented from exporting much of its natural gas because of Western sanctions over its contested nuclear programme. Meanwhile, Kuwait’s crude oil exports to Japan fell 35.0 percent in April from a year earlier to 5.30 million barrels, or 177,000 barrels per day (bpd), for the first decline in two months, government data showed. As Japan’s fifth-biggest oil provider, Kuwait supplied 5.0 percent of the Asian nation’s total crude imports, the Japanese Natural Resources and Energy Agency said in a preliminary report.

Japan’s overall imports of crude oil slid 4.3 percent year-on-year to 3.53 million bpd for the second consecutive monthly decline. Shipments from the Middle East accounted for 79.9 percent of the total, down 1.5 percentage points from a year before. Saudi Arabia remained Japan’s No.1 oil supplier, although imports from the kingdom shrank 4.5 percent from a year earlier to 1.15 million bpd, followed by the United Arab Emirates with 869,000 bpd, up 17.4 percent. Qatar ranked third with 426,000 bpd and Russia fourth with 322,000 bpd, respectively. Japan is the world’s-third biggest oil consumer after the US and China. But in its annual Energy Outlook released last month, the US Energy Information Administration predicted India will take over Japan by 2025.

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