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Qatar Agrees to Supply Japan With ‘Oil It Needs,’ Gemba Says

Qatar will supply Japan with the “oil it needs” in light of the situation with Iran, Koichiro Gemba, Japan’s foreign minister, told reporters in the Qatari capital of Doha today.

The European Union is weighing a ban this month on purchases of Iranian oil after the U.S. tightened sanctions at the end of last year. The Islamic Republic conducted 10 days of naval maneuvers east of Hormuz ending Jan. 3 and warned it would block the strait if prevented from selling its oil, according to Iranian state-run news agencies. The country plans even bigger military maneuvers in the area next month, the state-run Fars news agency reported Jan. 5.

Japan relied on Qatar for 12 percent of its crude imports in 2009, making it the third-largest supplier behind Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, according to U.S. Energy Department data. Gemba, who is on a regional tour of the Persian Gulf, spoke in a press conference with Qatar’s Deputy Prime Minister Abdullah al-Attiyah.

Japan asked Saudi Arabia to provide more crude oil to compensate for any loss in shipments from Iran, al-Watan reported, citing a foreign ministry spokesman.

Qatar, the world’s biggest liquefied natural gas producer, also supplies LNG to Japan, the biggest importer of the fuel. Qatar raised LNG exports to Japan after a March 11 earthquake reduced nuclear power output.

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