Oil Report

TEPCO to promote VP Shimizu to top post in June

TOKYO, Jan 22 (Reuters) - Japan's top utility Tokyo Electric Power Co 9501.T said on Tuesday it would work on the restart of its earthquake-hit nuclear power plant under a new president from June.

TEPCO Executive Vice-President Masataka Shimizu, 63, will take over as president pending approval at a shareholders’ meeting in late June.

Current TEPCO President Tsunehisa Katsumata, who took his post in 2002 after his predecessor stepped down in a scandal over fabricated nuclear power plant data, will become chairman.

TEPCO has not been able to set a date for the restart of its Kashiwazaki-Kariwa plant, the world’s largest nuclear complex, which was closed after a powerful earthquake in July 2007.

“The re-opening of the plant should not take precedence, as we must progress step by step by hearing diverse people’s opinions on the plant’s soundness, earthquake-proof safety and reinforcement measures first above all else,” Shimizu told reporters.

Shimizu also said he would do his utmost to tackle TEPCO’s biggest challenges, which include stable electricity supplies and improving its financial conditions.

TEPCO has cut its earnings outlook for the year to March to a loss of 95 billion yen ($894 million), its first red ink in 28 years, compared with its earlier estimate of a 65 billion yen profit, weighed down by a sharp rise in the cost of oil and gas that it needs to power its thermal power plants. ($1=106.29 Yen) (Reporting by Osamu Tsukimori)