TOKYO Oct 3 Japan Petroleum Exploration (Japex)
said it has retrieved the country's first oil from
shale layers deep below the earth's surface, a potentially
important development for a nation that imports most of its
The country's oil and gas needs have spiked after most of
Japan's nuclear power stations were shut down due to the
Fukushima nuclear disaster, forcing Tokyo to spend millions of
dollars more on fuel for electricity generation.
Tests to retrieve oil trapped in shale layers below the
Ayukawa oil and gas field in Akita in northern Japan were
successful on Wednesday, a Japex official said.
Shale oil, also known as "tight oil" because it is
sandwiched between hard layers of shale rock, is one the world's
fastest-growing sources of oil and mass production has taken off
in the United States and Canada.
Japex estimates several million barrels of shale oil are
contained in the Ayukawa oil and gas field. The company is
hoping that about 100 million barrels of shale oil, equivalent
to about 8 percent of Japan's annual domestic oil demand, lie
under Akita prefecture.
Japex is examining whether commercial extraction is
feasible, the official said.
(Reporting by Osamu Tsukimori; Editing by Aaron Sheldrick and