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Japanese company turns into LNG seller after nuclear reactor restarts

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LNG Industry,

Reuters are reporting that a Japanese company that buys LNG to feed power plants has turned seller of the super-chilled fuel after it restarted a nuclear reactor, reducing its need for gas and potentially driving down spot LNG prices.

With more reactors that have been shut since Japan’s 2011 Fukushima disaster seen restarting this year, LNG demand could be further curbed in the country that is the world’s biggest LNG importer of the fuel – causing supplies to swell and prices to wilt.

Kansai Electric Power Co has offered a spot LNG cargo for loading in May. The company offered the cargo on a free-on-board (FOB) basis to be loaded on 21 – 22 May.

The tender closed on 19 March, but it was not immediately clear if it had been awarded by 20 March.

Japan’s nuclear restart process has been riddled with delays due to technical trouble and legal challenges, making it difficult for utilities to know whether they will need replacement fuels like thermal coal or LNG. Kansai Electric restarted the No. 3 reactor at its Ohi plant on March 14 after a delay of about two months.

The utility is reselling its term cargo from Australia Pacific LNG (APLNG), a second trader familiar with the Japanese market said. It has a 20-year commitment with APLNG to buy about 1 million tpy of LNG from 2016.

More shifts in Japanese utilities’ LNG needs are expected within the energy industry as 2018 proceeds.

Masakazu Toyoda, chairman and chief executive of the government-associated Institute of Energy Economics, Japan, said in October last year that about five more nuclear reactors will restart by early next year, increasing nuclear’s share of Japan’s energy mix to 6 – 7%.

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