* Cosmo Oil plans to cut Jan-Mar refining 4.6 pct y/y
* Showa Shell sees Q1 crude runs down 3 pct y/y
* Cosmo to restart Yokkaichi CDU on Wednesday after delay
(Adds Showa Shell refining plan, updates throughout)
By James Topham and Osamu Tsukimori
TOKYO, Jan 5 Cosmo Oil Co Ltd 5007.T and
Showa Shell Sekiyu KK (5002.T) will refine less crude in the
first quarter, the firms said on Tuesday, joining other
Japanese oil firms in curbing production to start off the year.
Oil demand in the world's third-largest consumer nation has
been steadily falling for years, but the trend accelerated last
year during Japan's worst recession in decades, leaving the
country with around 1 million bpd of excess refining capacity.
Cosmo Oil, which has the capacity to refine 635,000 barrels
of oil per day, said it would refine 7.225 million kilolitres,
or 505,000 barrels per day (bpd) of crude oil for
January-March, down 4.6 percent from a year earlier.
Showa Shell Sekiyu KK (5002.T), Japan's fifth-largest
refiner, said it planned to refine 8.77 million kilolitres of
crude oil in January-March, down about 3 percent from a year
earlier amid sluggish domestic oil product demand.
Refining for the domestic market will fall 9 percent from a
year earlier to 7.68 million kl amid continued anaemic demand.
But refining for exports is projected to jump 77 percent to
1.09 million kl due to robust demand for diesel, Showa Shell
Many Japanese refiners have been reining in production for
the past year as domestic oil product sales hover at two-decade
lows, due to a greying population and a push towards greener
Cosmo, Japan's fourth-largest oil firm, plans to refine in
January alone 2.51 million kl, up 2.1 percent from a year ago,
in part because it expects to restart its 85,000 bpd crude
distillation unit (CDU) at its Yokkaichi refinery on Wednesday.
The company said last November it would delay the restart
of the CDU until January or later due to weak domestic demand.
The unit was initially due to be restarted in November.
Last month, top refiner Nippon Oil Corp. 5001.T said it
planned to refine 5.36 million kilolitres of crude oil in
January, up 1 percent from a year earlier but down 14 percent
from the level of two years ago.
Following are Cosmo Oil's refining plans for February and
March in kilolitres and percentage changes from a year earlier.
Volume % Change
February 2.32 mln kl -3.4
March 2.395 mln kl -12.5
(Reporting by James Topham, Osamu Tsukimori and Miho
Yoshikawa; Editing by Clarence Fernandez)