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Iran spurs Japan on $10 billion investment plan

Japan has been a “good partner” for Iran for years, Amir-Hossein Zamaninia, Iran's deputy petroleum minister, says.

A senior Iranian official has called on Japan to move faster on rolling out a credit package worth $10 billion for investment in Iran. 

Japan signed a bilateral investment treaty and an agreement for a $10 billion debt guarantee for Iran in February after Tehran reached a nuclear accord with the US, EU, China and Russia.

“It is expected that the $10 billion credit line which Japan intends to allocate to various sectors of the Iranian economy will be put into effect sooner,” Amir-Hossein Zamaninia, Iran's deputy minister of petroleum for commerce and international affairs, said on Saturday.

Petroleum and other energy sectors are viewed as a key target of the Japanese investment, with the debt guarantee allowing its companies to invest without significant risk.

Tokyo lifted sanctions against Tehran in February to allow Japanese companies to invest in Iran's oil and gas sector after the nuclear agreement was reached.

Zamaninia lauded Japan as a “good partner” for Iran, saying the Asian country planned for “an active presence in Iran’s petroleum industry” after the lifting of the sanctions. 

“The Japanese intend to invest in various oil industry sectors including petrochemicals and LNG,” he told the official IRNA news agency.

For the debt guarantee, Iran is about to use export credits by Nippon Export and Investment Insurance or special loans arranged by the Japan Bank for International Cooperation.

Iran will also provide financing in Japanese yen which is very important to facilitating investment, as international transaction in US dollar with the Islamic Republic is still prohibited under remaining American sanctions.

“The Japanese are currently assessing the situation in order to decide how to invest in Iran’s petroleum industry,” Zamaninia said.

Iran's Deputy Petroleum Minister Amir-Hossein Zamaninia (R) makes a gesture during a meeting with representatives of Japan's Mitsubishi company in Tehran, June 1, 2016. (Photo by Shana) 

Japan’s oil imports from Iran have been recovering from the lowest levels in 2011 when they nearly halved after Tehran came under strict Western sanctions.

Earlier this month, Japanese oil refiner TonenGeneral Sekiyu bought its first oil from Iran since becoming independent from US oil major Exxon Mobil Corp, it was reported on Friday.

Japan has reportedly imported 192,180 barrels per day of Iranian crude between January and May this year, up 1.9 percent from the same period a year ago.

Japanese buyers are said to be interested in hiking purchases of Iranian oil on a spot basis but Zamaniania said they mostly look to buying Iranian condensate and light crude.

“Tokyo currently has limits on the use of crude oil, so they are not looking to increase crude oil imports, rather they have been demanding increasing the purchase of gas condensate,” he said.

The Japanese have a well-established background in Iran’s petrochemicals, having built the Bandar Imam complex in Mahshahr. They have also shown interest in Iran’s LNG plans.

Iran had granted preferential rights to Japan’s state-owned Inpex Corp. to develop the country’s South Azadegan oilfield but the company withdrew from the project in 2010 due to US pressures.

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