Japan ups reliance on oil-fired power to replace idled nuclear generation

Japanese utilities are increasing their oil imports in order to help replace some of the country's idled nuclear power capacity, according to Bloomberg

The country's nuclear power plant utilization rate has fallen dramatically to 5.1 percent in August from 26.4 percent the same month last year, even after the March 2011 tsunami that crippled the Fukushima Daiichi reactor. 

Meanwhile, the country has increased its reliance on oil-fired power plants, with total oil imports rising 35.4 percent year-over-year in August to reach around 257,000 barrels per day. 

Of that amount, 7 percent was used for power generation. By comparison, the International Energy Agency reports that less than 2 percent of Japanese crude oil was converted to electricity in in 2009. 

Japan has pushed hard to diversify its crude oil supply, with Reuters reporting that it has drastically scaled back imports from Iran in response to international sanctions. However, the country's cut in imports could allow it to secure a further extension of exemptions provided by the U.S. and Europe. 

PennEnergy's Research area explains how the ongoing nuclear debate in Japan could impact oil and gas markets.

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