• Kyodo


Saudi Arabia has notified Japanese oil refineries and trading houses of its decision to ease cuts imposed in January on crude oil shipments to Japan and other parts of Asia, starting in February, oil industry sources said Tuesday.

In late December, Saudi Arabia notified Japanese crude oil importers it would cut oil shipments to the region by 23 percent from the original scheduled quantity. The latest announcement would limit the shipment cuts for February to only 5 percent, the sources said.

The decision means that Saudi oil shipments to Japan in February will increase by more than 100,000 barrels a day from the January level.

On Sunday, OPEC decided to raise its combined oil output to 24.5 million barrels a day from 23 million barrels to curb surging prices. The decision will take effect Feb. 1.

Saudi Arabia is the world’s biggest oil producer and the leading member of OPEC.

Iran earlier told Japan it would cut crude oil supplies by 10 percent but has expressed readiness to expand shipments if Japanese importers request greater supplies, the sources said.

There has been hardly any change in Iran’s oil shipments to Japan, they said.

The United Arab Emirates, Japan’s largest oil supplier, Kuwait and other OPEC states are expected to follow Saudi Arabia’s lead.

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