Japan kicked off the sale of oil from its strategic reserves in a bid to combat rising prices, joining an unprecedented coordinated release of crude from strategic stockpiles that’s been led by the U.S.
A government tender offered Oman crude from the strategic reserves in Shibushi for delivery between March and June, the trade ministry said in a statement.
The move is part of Japan’s plans to sell oil in coordination with other consuming nations and more sales may follow, according to a ministry official, who declined to be identified because of internal policy.
The Biden administration started tapping the first of its pledged 50 million barrels of reserves not long after announcing the coordinated release in late November.
South Korea said last week that it will start releasing crude and oil products from its strategic reserves next month, although other countries named as part of the plan — including China and India — have yet to act.
The inaugural volume offered by Japan is 100,000 kiloliters, according to a second ministry statement. The ministry plans to announce additional sales, while monitoring the energy markets, the official said.
At present, there are signs of weakening oil demand in Asia given the rapid spread of the omicron variant of the coronavirus.
Brent crude, the global benchmark, traded slightly higher above $76 a barrel on Monday, although it’s down by about 7% since the U.S.-led plan was announced.
Trade Minister Koichi Hagiuda said in November that Japan would conduct the release as it replaces oil in its stockpiles.
While it does that regularly, the schedule has been moved up to support similar actions elsewhere, he added.