LNG Use Rises at Japan Utilities in 2012 on Idle Reactors

Liquefied natural gas consumption by Japan’s 10 regional power utilities increased by 15 percent last year as almost all the country’s atomic plants stayed shut.

Power companies used 56.6 million metric tons of LNG in 2012, up from 49.1 million tons a year earlier, according to Bloomberg calculations based on data updated today by the Federation of Electric Power Cos. LNG consumption increased by 20 percent in 2011.

Fuel oil use rose by 80 percent in 2012 to 16.2 million kiloliters (279,000 barrels a day) from the previous year, while crude consumption jumped 70 percent to 14.8 million kiloliters. Coal use increased by 0.2 percent to 50.1 million tons.

All 50 of Japan’s functioning reactors were idled in May for safety checks after the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami. Two units at Kansai Electric Power Co.’s Ohi plant northeast of Osaka were permitted to resume in July.

Kansai Electric plans to restart two additional units at its Takahama nuclear plant after July 2013, the company said in a November statement. Tokyo Electric plans to start seven reactors at its Kashiwazaki Kariwa plant between April 2013 and September 2015, according to a business plan announced in May. Decisions to begin generation will need approval from the country’s Nuclear Regulation Authority, Cabinet members and local authorities.

Rising Thermal Generation

Last month’s LNG consumption advanced 1.4 percent from December 2011 to 5.05 million tons, according to the utilities’ data released today. Fuel oil use rose by 23 percent in December to 1.67 kiloliters, while oil consumption rose 3.2 percent to 1.43 million kiloliters. Coal use declined 2.4 percent to 4.63 million tons.

Thermal power generation rose 4.1 percent in December from a year earlier. The average operating rate of nuclear plants in December was 5.3 percent, down from 15 percent a year earlier.

The following table shows Japanese utilities’ consumption and purchases of fuel oil, crude, LNG and coal for 2012 and for the month of December. Fuel oil and crude volumes are in kiloliters, while those for LNG and coal are in tons.

                 2012                  2011

Fuel oil         16,237,237             9,010,418
Crude oil        14,845,080             8,753,675
LNG              56,632,775            49,131,485
Coal             50,092,461            49,983,882

Fuel oil         16,354,445             9,253,335
Crude oil        14,764,487             8,828,226
LNG              58,677,990            51,454,187
Coal             51,098,111            48,848,220

December 2012 December 2011

CONSUMPTION Fuel oil 1,667,721 1,358,863 Crude oil 1,433,018 1,389,140 LNG 5,051,540 4,981,194 Coal 4,631,646 4,744,200 PURCHASES Fuel oil 1,603,645 1,321,999 Crude oil 1,519,064 1,354,115 LNG 5,027,972 5,021,856 Coal 4,375,053 4,291,992 ------------------------------------------------------------
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