TOKYO, June 28 (Reuters) - Japan’s crude oil imports rose 2.1% in May from a year earlier to 3.04 million barrels per day (15.0 million kilolitres), the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) said on Friday.
Japan’s domestic oil product sales in May, meanwhile, fell 5.2% from a year earlier to 2.47 million bpd, the data showed.
Gasoline sales dropped 5.5% to 812,543 bpd, and kerosene sales slid 18.6% to 90,830 bpd, according to the data.
Japan halted all imports of Iranian oil in May, the data also showed, as waivers on U.S. sanctions against Iran ended at the start of the month.
The world’s fourth-largest crude oil importer was among eight customers granted waivers for six months by the United States in November last year, resuming Iranian oil imports from January this year.
To replace Iranian oil after those waivers were withdrawn, Japan increased imports from Middle East countries such as United Arab Emirates and Kuwait, and from other producers as well, including Russia, the United States and Mexico.
Imports from UAE jumped 66% last month from a year earlier to account for 33.7% of Japan’s total imports, exceeding Saudi Arabia at 32.4%.
It is the first time for UAE to beat out Saudi Arabia since June 2015, according to a METI official.
The United States withdrew from a nuclear accord between world powers and Iran last year, reimposing sanctions on Tehran that cut off legitimate means for the member of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries to export its oil.
The absence of Iranian oil drove spot premiums for crude sharply higher as Asian buyers scoured markets for replacement supplies.
For a table on Japan’s crude oil imports by source, see . (Reporting by Yuka Obayashi; Editing by Tom Hogue)