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Japan Utilities Use Record LNG in 2011 on Idle Reactors

Japanese power providers said they used record amounts of liquefied natural gas last year to replace nuclear generation.

Japan’s 10 regional power utilities burned 52.9 million metric tons of LNG in the fiscal year ended in March, up 27 percent from the prior year, according to data today from the Federation of Electric Power Companies.

The previous record for LNG consumption was 41.9 million metric tons in the year ended in March 2008, Tetsu Oshikiri, a federation spokesman, said at a press conference in Tokyo.

The utilities’ consumption of petroleum, which includes crude and fuel oil, more than doubled to 23.3 million kiloliters, according to the federation’s data. Petroleum consumption was the highest in at least 10 years, said Oshikiri. Crude and fuel oil consumption was 57.7 million kiloliters in the year ended in March 1974, he said.

The average operating rate of nuclear plants in the latest fiscal year was 24 percent, down from 67 percent a year earlier, the federation said. The atomic utilization rate last year was the lowest since Japan’s first reactor started in fiscal 1968.

Thermal-power generation rose 26 percent from a year earlier, according to the federation. In the wake of radiation leaks following last year’s Fukushima Dai-Ichi disaster, Japan had one nuclear reactor, with a capacity of 912 megawatts, or 1.9 percent of the total, operating as of the end of March, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

The following table shows Japanese utilities’ consumption and purchases of fuel oil, crude, LNG and coal in the fiscal year that ended in March. Fuel oil and crude volumes are in kiloliters, while those for LNG and coal are in tons.

                 Year Ended             Year Ended
                 March 2012             March 2011
Fuel oil         11,822,365             6,297,685
Crude oil        11,572,589             4,759,614
LNG              52,885,437            41,740,733
Coal             49,293,267            51,025,604

Fuel oil         12,190,213             6,124,870
Crude oil        11,569,412             4,687,181
LNG              55,494,320            43,922,794
Coal             49,247,340            52,240,452


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