Japanese traders, including Marubeni Corp and Sumitomo Corp, are looking to resume imports of Iranian oil, potentially by the end of 2016, Reuters reported. Conservative Japanese firms have so far held off taking Iranian crude due to a lack of internationally acceptable insurance coverage, but are looking at ways of using coverage provided by the Japanese government.

The traders seeking to restart purchases together imported around 50,000b/d of Iranian oil before sanctions were imposed and renewed purchases would give a boost to Tehran’s aim of increasing its exports to 4mb/d, informed Ennhar Online.

Earlier October, Mitsui & Co resumed taking Iranian oil for the first time since at least 2012, co-loading Iranian condensate with a major Japanese refiner on a tanker. Furthermore, Marubeni, which bought Iranian crude, condensate, naphtha and fuel oil until 2012, confirmed it had been working to restart purchases. While, Sumitomo, which bought liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) from Iran before the sanctions, was also looking to buy Iranian oil and LPG as long as prices were competitive.

This comes as Iran aims to expand its oil and gas sector to reach pre-sanction production levels. Egypt Oil&Gas reported earlier that the country’s Deputy Oil Minister, Ali Kardor, had announced that Iran would invite foreign companies to bid for oil and gas projects in the country’s first round of tenders since sanctions were lifted in January.  Kardor had added that all interested international oil firms were required to submit their data to the National Iranian Oil Company (NIOC) within 30-days for a qualification procedure.