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Cosmo Energy to be first Japanese energy firm to import U.S. oil

Kyodo

Cosmo Energy Holdings Co. will begin importing crude oil from the United States in mid-February, becoming the first Japanese firm to do so after the U.S. government lifted a four-decade ban on oil exports in December, industry officials said Tuesday.

Washington’s move increases Japan’s options for procurement and is expected to help stabilize supplies. The country currently relies heavily on imports from the politically unstable Middle East.

Economy, Trade and Industry Minister Motoo Hayashi said in December that Washington’s lifting of the ban will aid the “stable supply of energy resources and the strengthening of national security” for Japan.

The officials speaking Tuesday said Cosmo Oil plans to begin shipping around 300,000 barrels of crude oil, including shale oil, in mid-February. The supplies come from a range of sources, including an extraction site in Eagle Ford, Texas.

The crude will be delivered to its refineries in Chiba and Mie prefectures in mid-April, where it will be turned into gasoline and other petroleum products.

The ban on American oil exports was aimed at ensuring stable supplies there.