April 16, 2012 / 6:05 AM / 7 years ago

UPDATE 1-Japan utilities' March gas consumption rises 32 pct y/y

* 2011/12 LNG use hits record 52.89 mln tonnes
    * Oil use more than doubles to 147 mln bbls in 2011/12
    * All nuclear plants likely shut from May 6 -minister

 (Adds details, tables, links)	
    TOKYO, April 16 (Reuters) - Japan's 10 utilities consumed
just under a third more natural gas in March than a year earlier
to generate electricity, compensating for a record low rate of
nuclear plant use, industry data showed on Monday.	
    The crisis at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant sparked by
last March's earthquake and tsunami has shredded public faith in
atomic power and prevented the restart of reactors shut for
routine checks, with just one of 54 now online.	
    Nuclear power accounted for about 30 percent of Japan's
electricity demand before the Fukushima crisis.	
    The utilities burned 5.04 million tonnes of liquefied
natural gas (LNG) equivalent last month compared with 3.82
million tonnes a year earlier, data from the Federation of
Electric Power Companies of Japan showed.	
    That marked the second highest gas consumption after a
record 5.23 million tonnes in January 2012.	
    In the previous fiscal year ended in March, the utilities
used a record 52.89 million tonnes equivalent of LNG, topping
the previous record by more than 10 million tonnes.	
    They generated 81.89 billion kilowatt-hours of electricity
in March, up 1.3 percent from a year earlier, matching a Reuters
    Oil use has also jumped. Consumption of fuel oil and
direct-burn crude totaled 23.4 million kilolitres (147.1 million
barrels) in 2011/12, more than double the 11.1 million kl a year
    Trade Minister Yukio Edano on Sunday said Japan's nuclear
plant utilisation was likely to fall to zero temporarily from
May 6, a day after the last active reactor, Tomari No.3 unit
operated by Hokkaido Electric Power Co, begins
scheduled checks, media reports said.	
    Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda and other ministers on Friday
declared the two idled reactors, the No.3 and No.4 units at
Kansai Electric Power's Ohi plant, safe to restart to
avoid a summer power crunch. But the government needs local
governments' approval for a restart, which will take time.	
    That would mark the first nuclear power-free day in Japan
since the five days ended on May 4, 1970, when the two reactors
then existing were both shut for maintenance, a federation
official said.	
    Japan's nuclear power plant utilisation rate for 10
utilities with reactors fell to a record low 4.2 percent in
March from 58.3 percent a year earlier and is set to fall
further this month. 	
    Following is a table of total energy purchases and 	
consumption by the utilities for last month, according to the 	
federation data (volumes of crude, fuel oil and naphtha in 	
barrels; LNG and coal in tonnes):          	
    Fuel oil and crude are translated to barrels from 	
kilolitres. (One kilolitre equals about 6.2898 barrels)	
 Purchase     Feb-12     Mar-11     Mar-12     yr/yr %
     Coal  3,945,917  4,359,864  4,497,471         3.2
 Fuel oil  9,722,685  2,553,011  9,036,549       254.0
    Crude  9,933,393  3,457,258  8,123,459       135.0
      LNG  5,093,278  4,109,261  5,529,141        34.6
  Naphtha       -             0          0     n/a
 Consumption      Feb-12     Mar-11     Mar-12  yr/yr %
        Coal   4,521,044  4,220,679  4,420,502      4.7
    Fuel oil  10,392,265  3,098,544  8,402,764    171.2
       Crude  10,902,180  3,807,946  7,948,433    108.7
         LNG   4,996,842  3,824,625  5,039,257     31.8
     Naphtha          67      1,044         34    -96.7
 (Reporting by Osamu Tsukimori; Editing by Clarence Fernandez)
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