A second earthquake with a magnitude of a 5.8 hit northwestern Japan on Saturday following a massive earthquake and tsunami that struck the island nation on Friday. Preliminary estimates were a 6.6 magnitude.
The first earthquake registering an 8.9 had already sent commodities prices across the board skidding on worries about the fallout to the world's third largest consumer of commodities.
The second quake sent U.S. crude oil prices spiraling further down.
Oil refineries and power plants on the U.S. West Coast were on guard against a possible tsunami in the Western Pacific Ocean following the earlier quake.
The U.S. Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration was hoping the tsunami warning for the U.S. West Coast would be over in the next 2-to-5 hours.
Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO) (9501.T) was considering taking measures to lower pressure inside one of its nuclear reactors at its Fukushima-Daiichi nuclear power plant.
Japan warned that their could be a small radiation leak since the cooling system was knocked out from the first earthquake. Radiation levels at the plant's central control unit were 1,000 times the normal level.
Following is the impact on the energy and commodities sector from Japan's disaster, which has cost hundreds of lives.
- U.S. crude oil prices slipped further on the news that a fresh earthquake hit Japan on Saturday. Front-month crude oil futures on the New York Mercantile Exchange traded down $1.76 a barrel by 2:13 p.m. to $100.94, settling the day at $101.16.
- With one-third of Japanese refining capacity shut and ports closed, Wells Fargo Securities analysts said crude oil tankers headed to Japan would be diverted to other Asian refineries.
- U.S. refinery margins were higher on Friday on expectations that Japan will need product imports.
- U.S. energy companies with operations in Hawaii, Alaska and along the California coast including oil refineries were bracing for the possible impact of a tsunami after the Japan earthquake.
- Maruzen shuts two naphtha crackers at Chiba with capacities of 480,000 and 690,000 tones of ethylene per year, respectively.
- Kyokuto Petroleum says shuts 175,000-bpd Chiba refinery after quake, will not reopen until Saturday at earliest.
- Major explosion hits petrochemical complex in northeast Japan's Miyagi prefecture, Kyodo news agency says.
- Cosmo Oil 5007.T says fire at Chiba refinery started from near LPG tank, not yet extinguished.
- JX Holdings (5020.T) says it is working to shut 404,000-tpy Kawasaki naphtha cracker near Tokyo.
- JX Holdings says fire at Sendai refinery occurred near LPG tank.
- Tonengeneral 5012.T says shuts main units at its 335,000-bpd Kawasaki refinery near Tokyo.
- Mitsubishi Chemical (4188.T) says halts operations of two naphtha crackers at Kashima after power outage.
- AOC Holdings (5017.T) says its 140,000-bpd Sodegaura refinery continued operations, but has cut runs of two fluid catalytic cracking units.
- Petrobras said operations were normal at its 100,000-bpd Nansei Sekiyu refinery.
- Japan has told the U.N. nuclear watchdog that a heightened state of alert has been declared at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant.
- Thousands of residents near the Daiichi plant evacuated as a precaution due to reactor cooling malfunction.
- Japan chief cabinet secretary says no radiation leaking outside of Daiichi nuclear plant.
- U.N. nuclear watchdog in Vienna says four nuclear power plants closest to Japan quake safely shut down.
- Tohoku Elec's (9506.T) Onagawa nuclear plant had water leakage, no radioactivity leakage, news agency Kyodo says.
- Dynegy (DYN.N) said it was monitoring its Moss Landing gas-fired plant in California after the tsunami alert.
- PG&E Corp (PCG.N) said its reactors were designed to deal with any large waves that might hit the California coast.
- Southern California Edison, a unit of Edison International (EIX.N), said its workers were monitoring "unusual small waves" off the coast of its San Onofre Plant.
- TEPCO says power cut to 4 million homes.
- Electric Power Development (J-Power) (9513.T) has halted operations at its Isogo thermal plant in Yokohama, Jiji reported.
- Fire at Sumitomo Metal Industries 5405.T Kashima steel mill, Jiji reported.
- Pan Pacific Copper says its Hitachi refinery has halted operations due to power outage.
- Mitsui Mining (5706.T) says operation at Hachinohe Zinc smelter halted, all employees evacuated.
- Sumitomo Metal Industries 5405.T says temporarily suspends operations at two blast furnaces at Kajima plant.
- Mitsubishi Material (5711.T) says Onahama copper smelter halted due to electricity outage from quake.
- The 19-component Reuters Jeffries CRB commodity price index .CRB was down about 0.8 percent.
- The price of gold was pushed higher as a result of the Japan earthquake. Spot gold rose to $1,424.05 an ounce by 1:43 p.m. EST (1843 GMT), up from $1,412.59 late in New York on Thursday.
- U.S. natural gas prices rose to trade at a high of $3.947 on Friday partly on the expectation that higher gas demand in Japan to replace lost nuclear capacity would tighten the global supply/demand balance. Futures pared gains by day's end, settling at $3.889, adding 5.9 cents.
- U.S. wheat futures plunged to their lowest in more than three months as the earthquake heightened concerns about the global economy and reinforced a recent pullback in grain prices.
- Tokyo Commodity Exchange says no damage to rubber warehouses from the quake.
- All Japanese ports close, with discharge operations halted, after the quake and tsunami, shippers say.
- A ship carrying 100 people was swept away, Kyodo news agency said.
- One train derailed, another missing in Japan's quake-hit Miyagi prefecture, Kyodo news agency said.
- Contact was lost with four trains along the Japanese coast.
(Compiled by Randy Fabi, Asia Desk and Jeanine Prezioso in New York.)