Tuesday, May 04, 2004

Nuclear Frees Up Oil
Tokyo Electric Power Co (TEPCO) recently announced it will restart two more nuclear plants in the next couple of weeks, as it recovers from last year's scandal concerning safety and maintenance data. This should take a small amount of pressure off oil prices.

Few countries still burn large quantities of fuel oil to generate power, but Japan is a notable exception. In fact, several Japanese utilities burn unrefined, low sulfur crude oil--primarily from Indonesia--directly in their power plants. The shutdown of so much of Japan's nuclear capacity last year increased demand for imports of crude oil and liquefied natural gas (LNG), contributing to the increase in global oil prices.

Each 2,000 MW nuclear complex brought back on line saves an amount of oil equivalent to the throughput of a small refinery, roughly 60,000 barrels/day. So restarting two more nukes, with two more to go, puts about as much oil back into the market as would be produced by a major offshore oil platform. This is modestly good news to help offset higher demand and OPEC's announced production constraints.

On a housekeeping note, you may have noticed some new text below each posting in this blog. Clicking on "comment" will bring up a form allowing you to post your reaction to my daily blog, as well as allowing you to see any previous comments on that posting. I've wanted to make the blog interactive from the start, and thanks to a friend alerting me to Haloscan, I was able to add that feature. I look forward to hearing from you!

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