TOKYO - Japanese buyers of Iran crude may ask Tehran to include a force majeure clause in contracts if they are unable to pay Iran or lift Iranian oil due to lack of insurance cover for tankers under European Union sanctions , industry sources said on Friday.
Some oil refiners are set to demand the clause when they start negotiations for term contracts that start from April to avoid unexpected difficulties in lifting Iranian oil, the sources said.
Japan's main shipping insurer will only be able to provide a fraction of the coverage to tankers transporting Iranian oil under new EU sanctions starting in July, and sources say that Japanese shipping firms would likely find it hard to carry crude from Iran unless the issue is resolved by then.
New Western sanctions imposed on Iran to punish it for its suspected nuclear weapons program have hampered traders' ability to do business with Tehran.
Japan, Iran's third biggest crude oil customer, is looking to reduce its dependence on the OPEC member due to pressure from the EU and the United States.