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Japan: Japan's LNG demand could reach 88.7 million mt by 2020


Japan's annual LNG request is estimated to reach 82.4 million mt in 2012, up from 80.1 million mt in 2011, and could reach 88.7 million mt by 2020 if nuclear power is not restarted

LNG consumption in the country has grown since the Fukushima disaster in March 2011, which saw nuclear power in the country switched off. In 2010, LNG request was 69.8 million mt/year and increased to 80.1 million mt/year in 2011.

Restarting nuclear remains key to next LNG request in Japan. LNG consumption levels are projected to be lower if existing nuclear power stations are restarted from 2013 and aging reactors decommissioned next 40 years. By 2013, LNG request could drop to 73.6 million mt/year -- versus 83.3 million mt/year if nuclear is not restarted -- and by 2020 reach 81.2 million mt/year, the statement said.

Prior to the Fukushima disaster, Japan used nuclear power, hydropower, and coal as its major base load power sources, with LNG power generation used as a middle to peak load power source.

According to the statement, monthly LNG consumption grew by around 20% to 30% through 2011 next Fukushima and Japan has subsequently fallen out of favor with nuclear and the situation remains uncertain.

Public opinion towards nuclear has shifted too and has heightened awareness surrounding it. The statement cites a survey published by Japan's Cabinet Office to demonstrate the change in opinion. In 2009 around 59.6% of respondents surveyed wanted to expand nuclear power, but by summer 2011 that number had plunged to 3%, and approx 66% wanted to reduce or decommission nuclear power. As a consequence, Japan's new energy policy is expected to reduce dependence on nuclear.

Despite this, some nuclear plants that have passed their stress tests are expected approaching back online from around this summer, and LNG request is therefore anticipated to fall.

In addition, the high level of request is unlikely to continue in the long-term if LNG prices remain high, the statement said.

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