Japan's use of fuel oil to generate power is set to fall over the next fiscal year to levels not seen since before the Fukushima disaster, if enough of the country's nuclear reactors are allowed back online.
Demand for low sulphur fuel oil has already dropped as Asia's largest listed power utility Tokyo Electric Power Co (Tepco) leads a switch to coal and gas to cut costs.
Further falls will push product back into an over-supplied Asia-Pacific market, hitting prices and processing margins already expected to be weak due to refinery expansions in China and the Middle East.
Japan's low sulphur fuel oil imports rose to a 39-year high of 150,600 barrels per day (bpd) in the financial year that ended last March 31, but between April and November 2013 fell about a third from the same period the previous year, according to trade ministry data.
Japan is the largest importer of fuel oil for power use in Asia, taking more than twice the volumes of the next biggest user, South Korea, according to traders.
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