Quake and Fire Has Japan Importing Most Fuel in Over 20 Years

Japan’s fuel imports have hit the highest level in more than two decades after series of incidents including an earthquake and a refinery fire curbed production at some of the nation’s processors.

Overseas purchases of so-called petroleum spirits -- a category that includes gasoline and naphtha -- surged to more than 3 million kiloliters in March, the most since August 2000, according to data from Japan’s Ministry of Finance. Imports were also about 19% higher than a month earlier.

Quake and Fire Has Japan Importing Most Fuel in Over 20 Years

The magnitude 7.3 earthquake struck off Fukushima in mid-February, leading to shutdowns at a number of refineries, although some were able to restart in a matter of days. ENEOS Holdings Inc., however, only resumed operations at the sole crude unit at its Sendai refinery in northern Japan last week, while a start-up of its Chiba plant has been delayed to later this month.

Adding to the squeeze on fuel production was the shuttering of the ENEOS-owned Wakayama refinery in western Japan late last month after a fire. The plant remains closed with no scheduled restart date.

Japan’s imports of crude oil in March, meanwhile, fell 17% from a year earlier to about 12 million kiloliters, according to ministry data. The nation’s refiners conduct planned maintenance during spring, typically between March and May.

©2021 Bloomberg L.P.

BQ Install

Bloomberg Quint

Add BloombergQuint App to Home screen.