Middle East Provided 90.9 % of Japan's Crude Imports in March

Monday, May 9, 2011

Tokyo- (PanOrient News) Japan imported 117.25 million barrels of crude oil in March 2011 according to the Natural Resources and Energy Agency.

Oil shipments from the Arab countries and Iran accounted for 90.9 percent of total imports, the agency at the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry said.

Saudi Arabia remained Japan's biggest oil supplier, exporting 37.24 million barrels, or 32.8 percent of Japan's total imports. The United Arab Emirates was second with 28.18 million barrels, or 24 percent, followed by Iran, which supplied 13.21 million barrels, or 11.2 percent.

Analysts expect Japan to increase its dependence on Middle East oil in the near future as oil companies are boosting output of heavy oil for thermal power generation, industry officials and analysts told local media.

Demand for heavy oil is growing due to Tokyo Electric Power Co.'s efforts to expand thermal power generation to cope with power shortages caused by the shutdown of its tsunami-crippled Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant in northeastern Japan.

The case looks similar to what happened in 2007, when heavy oil consumption grew after the company's Kashiwazaki-Kariwa nuclear power plant in Niigata Prefecture, central Japan, was shut down as a result of a powerful earthquake. The total amount of heavy oil procured by Japanese power companies in fiscal 2007 that ended in March 2008 jumped 55 pct from the previous year to 11.89 million kiloliters, according to the Agency for Natural Resources and Energy.

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