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A Dozen Power Plants, Refinery Shut in Japan After Strong Earthquake



By Takeo Kumagai

February 14, 2021 - A magnitude 7.3 earthquake offshore Fukushima has shut a dozen coal and gas-fired power plants in northeastern Japan, triggering Tohoku Electric to secure electricity supply from other power utilities to ensure its power supply.

The strong earthquake shut a combined 6.867 GW at 13 coal and gas-fired power plants in the northeastern Japan, with at least another 2 GW of coal-fired capacity is to be shut Feb. 14 for checkups, according to S&P Global Platts calculations based on the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry and company information. ENEOS' 145,000 b/d Sendai refinery was also shut after the earthquake.

In the latest update from METI as of noon local time (0300 GMT) Feb. 14, Joban Joint Power restarted the 600 No. 9 Nakoso coal-fired power plant at 3 am local time after having been shut from the earthquake offshore Fukushima on Feb. 13.

There is no suspension of city gas supply as well as no impact on LPG storage and filling facilities in the Tohoku region as a result of the earthquake, according to the latest METI update.

Tohoku Electric said its 1 GW No. 1 and No. 2 Haramachi coal-fired power plants at its Haramachi thermal power plant at Soma, Fukushima will be shut Feb. 14 for checkups.

Supply Impact

The unexpected shutdowns of the thermal power plant capacity and the Sendai refinery came at a time when northeastern Japan is still in the midst of the winter power and heating demand season.

Following shutdowns, Tohoku Electric Power Network Co., the general electricity transmission and distribution unit of Tohoku Electric, said it has requested power supply from other regions through the Organization for Cross-regional Coordination of Transmission Operators, or OCCTO.

It was directed by OCCTO to receive a maximum 3.5 GW of electricity from Hokkaido, Tokyo, Chubu and Kansai regions over 2-6 am local time Feb. 14, and it was directed to receive up to 1.76 GW of electricity from the Tokyo area over 2-6 am.

With electricity supply from other regions, Tohoku Electric Power Network said it has secured 10.51 GW of supply capacity, over the Feb. 14 peak demand of 10.2 GW over 6-7 pm, meaning it has a 3% of surplus supply capacity over the peak demand.

In the wake of the earthquake, Japan's day-ahead 24 hour spot electricity price on the Japan Electric Power Exchange, or JEPX, jumped to Yen 8.12/kWh for Feb. 15, up 58% from Yen 5.14/kWh on Feb. 14, according to JEPX.

The earthquake hit offshore Fukushima at a depth of 55 km at 11:07 pm local time on Feb. 13, and the magnitude was revised tentatively to 7.3 from a preliminary 7.1, according to the Japan Meteorological Agency.

Shut Units

    - JERA's No. 5, No. 6 coal-fired units with a capacity of 600 MW each at the Hirono thermal power plant in Fukushima
    - Fukushima Natural Gas Power Plant's 590 MW No. 1 and No. 2 units
    - Tohoku Electric's 1.046 GW gas-fired capacity over 3-1, 3-2 gas-fired units at the Shin Sendai thermal power plant
    - Tohoku Electric's 468 MW No. 4 gas-fired unit at the Sendai thermal power plant
    - Soma Kyodo Power's Shinchi 1 GW No. 1 and No. 2 coal-fired power plants
    - Joban Joint Power's 600 No. 9 Nakoso coal-fired power plant; restarted at 3am Feb. 14
    - Sendai Power Station's 112 MW coal-fired power plant
    - Nippon Paper's Ishimaki 149 MW coal-fired unit
    - Soma Energy Park's 112 MW coal-fired power plant
    - Tohoku Electric's 1 GW No. 1 and No. 2 Haramachi coal-fired power plants to be shut Feb. 14 for checkups

Refinery Impact

All units at ENEOS' 145,000 b/d Sendai refinery in northeast Japan automatically shutdown after a strong earthquake offshore Fukushima late Feb. 13, a spokesman at the country's largest refiner said Feb. 14.

A few unidentified units at ENEOS' 270,000 b/d Negishi refinery in Tokyo Bay also shut down due to a power outage triggered by the earthquake, he added.

It was not immediately clear when ENEOS will be able to restart the Sendai and Negishi refining units, the spokesman said.

The unexpected shutdown of the Sendai refinery in northeast came during Japan's winter kerosene demand for heating. Japan's kerosene stocks dropped a further 9.8% week on week to 11.70 million barrels on Feb. 6, the Petroleum Association of Japan said Feb. 10, amid the country's robust demand for heating.

The country's estimated weekly kerosene shipments to the domestic market jumped 14.8% week on week to 4.16 million barrels in the week to Feb. 6, and it was also up 2.6% from a year ago, according to Platts calculations based on the PAJ data.