Japan sets March 9 for 2nd round of auctioning oil from national reserve

TOKYO (Reuters) - Japan will hold an auction on March 9 to sell about 1.64 million barrels, or 260,000 kilolitres (kl), of crude oil in a second sale from its national reserve, as part of a U.S.-led, coordinated release of reserves to cool rising prices.

The country's industry ministry said on Wednesday the supply, about 110,000 kl to be taken from its Tomakomai-tobu tank in northern Japan and about 150,000 kl from Japanese refiner Eneos' Kiire tank in southern Japan, will become available to winning bidders from April 20.

The Kiire stock is part of national stockpiling in tanks leased from private companies.

Japan said in November it would release "a few hundred thousand kilolitres" of oil in response to a U.S. request, and the sale would be done as part of a switch in the composition of the types of oil held in the national reserve.

As the first round of the coordinated release, the ministry held an auction on Feb. 9 to sell about 100,000 kl, or 628,980 barrels, of crude oil from its reserve.

"This is the second round of the planned coordinated releases," an official at the ministry told Reuters.

"But we can't comment whether there will be more auctions as part of the coordinated release," he said.

International oil prices remained at above $90 a barrel amid tight global supplies and recovering fuel demand. [O/R]

The U.S. Department of Energy said in January it had approved an exchange of 13.4 million barrels of crude oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve (SPR) to seven companies as part of President Joe Biden's effort to help control oil prices.

The Biden administration announced a plan in November to release up to 50 million barrels from the SPR after oil prices hit seven-year highs. Nearly 40 million barrels of that had been released through previous exchanges and a sale of 18 million barrels.

(Reporting by Yuka Obayashi; Editing by Clarence Fernandez and Kenneth Maxwell)

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