Kuwait's crude oil exports to Japan fell 5.8 percent in November from a year earlier to 5.90 million barrels, or 197,000 barrels per day (bpd), down for the third straight month, government data showed.
As Japan's fifth-biggest oil provider, Kuwait supplied 6.4 percent of the Asian nation's total crude imports, the Japanese Natural Resources and Energy Agency said in a preliminary report.
Japan's overall imports of crude oil declined 17.3 percent year-on-year to 3.08 million bpd for the first drop in two months. Shipments from the Middle East accounted for 79.9 percent of the total, down 6.0 percentage points from a year before.
Saudi Arabia remained Japan's No.1 oil supplier, but imports from the kingdom plunged 25.6 percent from a year earlier to 950,000 bpd, followed by the United Arab Emirates with 816,000 bpd, down 15.5 percent. Russia ranked third with 329,000 bpd and Qatar fourth with 292,000 bpd, respectively.
Japan is the world's-third biggest oil consumer after the US and China. Last week, the Nikkei business newspaper reported that the nation's second-ranked oil distributor, Idemitsu Kosan, is in the final stages of talks to acquire No. 5 player Showa Shell Sekiyu in an estimated JPY 500 billion (USD 4.18 billion) deal.
Idemitsu and Showa Shell together would control 30 percent of the domestic gasoline market, the daily said, adding that the pair are expected to sign a basic agreement as early as February.
The two companies intend to invest in Southeast Asia and other markets where demand for oil products is expected to rise as economies and automobile ownership rates soar, the paper said.