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Japan’s 10 regional power utilities increased their imports of liquefied natural gas by 39 percent in January, when most of the country’s nuclear reactors remained idled over safety concerns.

Power companies imported 5.19 million metric tons of LNG last month, up from 3.73 million tons a year earlier, according to data today from the Federation of Electric Power Cos.

Oil imports almost tripled to 1.34 million kiloliters (8.4 million barrels), while fuel-oil purchases increased nearly threefold to 1.51 million kiloliters.




The average operating rate of nuclear plants in January was 10 percent, down from 66 percent last year, it said. Thermal- power generation rose 29 percent from a year earlier.

Japan had three nuclear reactors with a capacity of 3,138 megawatts, or 6.4 percent of the total, operating at the end of January. Japan ordered safety checks following the meltdowns at Tokyo Electric Power Co. (9501)’s Fukushima Dai-Ichi station last year.

The following table shows Japanese utilities’ consumption and purchases of fuel oil, crude, LNG and coal in January. Fuel oil and crude volumes are in kiloliters, while those for LNG and coal are in tons.
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January 2012 / January 2011

CONSUMPTION

Fuel oil 1,634,893 / 748,606

Crude oil 1,503,329 / 698,385

LNG 5,234,278 / 4,119,179

Coal 4,780,810 / 5,214,741

PURCHASES

Fuel oil 1,507,478 / 569,662

Crude oil 1,335,188 / 487,027

LNG 5,189,890 / 3,729,421

Coal 5,309,841 / 4,742,150

(Source: Bloomberg, 2/13/2012)