* Nov Iran crude imports total 182,078 bpd
* Jan-Nov imports average 187,212 bpd, down 40 pct yr/yr
TOKYO, Dec 28 (Reuters) - Japan's crude oil imports from
Iran in November fell 20.3 percent from a year earlier, data
from the trade ministry showed on Friday, as Japanese refiners
continued to curb shipping in the face of sanctions on the
Middle Eastern country.
Japan, the world's third-biggest oil consumer, imported
868,443 kilolitres (182,078 barrels per day) of Iranian crude
last month, according to data from the Ministry of Economy,
Trade and Industry (METI).
The Islamic Republic is under pressure from U.S. and
European trade and financial restrictions imposed over its
disputed nuclear programme.
The sanctions have led to a sharp drop over the past year in
its oil exports, a major source of revenue for Tehran.
The United States in September renewed waivers on Iranian
sanctions for Japan and 10 European countries because they cut
their purchases of the OPEC nation's crude oil.
Tough sanctions from Washington and Europe to force Iran to
curb its nuclear programme have already cut Iran's oil exports
by more than half this year, costing it more than $5 billion a
month. Tehran says the programme is for civilian purposes.
For the first 11 months of 2012, Japan imported 9,971,090 kl
(187,212 bpd) of Iranian crude, down 40.0 percent from
16,556,375 kl (311,785 bpd) in the same period a year ago,
according to Reuters calculations based on the finance
Japan's oil imports from Iran may be about 15 percent lower
next year, capped roughly at 160,000 bpd and may possibly be cut
further, Yasushi Kimura, the president of Petroleum Association
of Japan, who also serves as the chairman of JX Nippon Oil &
Energy Corp, told reporters last week.
(1 kl=6.2898 barrels)
(Reporting by Osamu Tsukimori; Editing by Michael Urquhart)