Japan's Kansai, Kyushu Elec to import 1 mln T U.S. coal

TOKYO Wed Nov 21, 2012 1:04am EST

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TOKYO Nov 21 (Reuters) - Japanese utilities Kansai Electric Power Co and Kyushu Electric Power Co said on Wednesday they have agreed to jointly buy a total of 1 million tonnes of low-sulphur high quality U.S. coal at prices competitive with a similar type from Australia.

Australia is traditionally the biggest thermal coal supplier to Japan. But given the shutdown of nuclear reactors in Japan for safety checks after last year's Fukushima disaster, utilities have stepped up efforts to cut fuel procurement costs.

The two companies, which were among the most nuclear-reliant utilities in Japan, also said in a joint news conference that they would consider extending the one-year contract with Oxbow Carbon of the United States further.

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