The Forum on Energy weekly news roundup brings together a mix of global energy stories from around the web. It is published every Thursday morning on Forum on Energy and is available on Twitter via @forumonenergy.
Decline of Yen to Affect Japanese Power Costs
The recent drop in the value of the yen has exacerbated the economic impact of the shutdown of most of Japan’s nuclear power plants. Lacking previous nuclear power capacity, the country’s electric utilities have imported more liquefied natural gas and other fossil fuels. With the decrease in the yen, imported fuel has become even more costly. A new report from the Japanese Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry estimates that the nuclear plant suspension may boost power generation fuel costs at nine utilities by 3.8 trillion yen in fiscal year 2013.
Source: Power Engineering, Financial Times
Safety Improvements Urged at Fukushima
The United Nations’ International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has urged Tokyo Electric Power (TEPCO) to improve safety measures at the Fukushima nuclear plant after a series of water leaks. The comments came after an IAEA mission met with officials from the Japanese government and TEPCO last week in Tokyo, ahead of their on-site inspection at the plant to monitor progress in its decommissioning. TEPCO President Naomi Hirose recently indicated that the company will be able to safely complete the transfer of radioactive water from underground reservoirs to aboveground tanks by early June.
Source: AFP, House of Japan
Rise in Value of Shipments to U.S. Helps Narrow Japan’s Trade Deficit
The Japanese finance ministry has released figures showing that overall exports rose 1.1 percent from a year ago. Imports increased 5.5 percent in the same period, due in large part to the fuel Japan has imported to replace its idled nuclear capacity. These figures represent Japan’s slimmest trade deficit in the last nine months, aided by a rise in the value of shipments made to the United States.
Saudi Arabia to Pursue Nuclear Power
Despite extensive oil and gas reserves, Saudi Arabia is planning to pursue the development of nuclear power to meet a rising demand for power and alleviate the harmful environmental effects of burning fossil fuels. According to a new report from Research and Markets, the country hopes to build 17 Gigawatts of nuclear power by 2032, which will help stem water scarcity and environmental degradation issues. Agreements with countries that have nuclear expertise will allow Saudi Arabia to build a sound regulatory structure and develop safety technology.
Japan to Pursue Energy Possibilities in Russia, Middle East
In order to meet its increased energy demand since slowing nuclear production, Japan is pursuing energy-related business opportunities in Russia and the Middle East. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe will visit Russia and the Middle East with Japanese business leaders in a month to explore partnerships to help Japan acquire cheaper overseas energy options in exchange for Japanese expertise in technology and infrastructure development. In addition, Japan’s Marubeni Corporation has announced an agreement with Russia’s Rosneft on the implementation of a liquefied natural gas project that allows for joint exploration and development of oil and natural gas fields in far east Russia.
Source: Japan Daily Press, UPI