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Japan’s energy imports fall to multi-year lows in pandemic year

Japan’s oil imports fell to the lowest in more than 50 years last year as the pandemic hit economic activity and speeded a long-term decline, while other energy purchases fell to decade lows, Reuters calculations based on data showed.

Liquefied natural gas (LNG) imports also declined, dropping to the smallest amount since before the Fukushima nuclear disaster which sent purchases by the world’s biggest buyer of the fuel soaring as reactors were shut down, the preliminary data released by the finance ministry showed.

Imports of thermal coal also dropped in 2020, falling for a third year as more renewables projects were completed and some nuclear remained online, despite the shutdown of some operable units for regulatory upgrades.

Crude imports into the world’s fourth-biggest importer of oil dropped 16% to 2.5 million barrels a day (146 million kilolitres for the year), the lowest since at least the late 1960s, according to the country’s trade ministry.

Japan’s imports of LNG came to 74.4 million tonnes in 2020, the lowest since 2010, the year before the March 2011 nuclear disaster drove purchases to records amounts.

Japan may lose its title as the biggest LNG importer this year as China’s purchases are fast catching up with the world’s biggest energy importer taking in a record 67.4 million tonnes in 2020.

Coal imports to Japan also fell in 2020, declining to the lowest since 2011 but remaining over 100 million tonnes for the 11th year as the country continues rolling out new power stations burning the world’s dirtiest fossil fuel.
Source: Reuters (Reporting by Aaron Sheldrick; editing by Emelia Sithole-Matarise)

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