Tokyo — A massive earthquake that struck Hokkaido in the early hours Thursday led to the automatic shutdown of Idemitsu
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Kosan's 150,000 b/d refinery and all of Hokkaido Electric's hydro, coal and oil-fired power plants, creating large-scale power outages across the vast island in northern Japan.
Hokkaido was struck by an estimated 6.7 magnitude earthquake at around 03:08 am local time Thursday (1808 GMT Wednesday) at a depth of 37 km, according to the Japan Meteorological Agency.
By mid-afternoon, Hokkaido Electric restarted some hydropower plants and a coal-fired power plant but its power supply capacity remains short of meeting the regional power demand of around 3.10 GW at the time of the earthquake.
Although it remains unclear how much Hokkaido Electric has restored its power supply capacity Thursday, the power utility said it hopes to restore around 2.90 GW of electricity supply capacity Friday through restarts of its power plants and an undamaged 600 MW power cable connecting Hokkaido with Honshu island, including from Tohoku Electric, company officials said.
The shutdown of all of Hokkaido Electric's power plants created massive power outages affecting a maximum of around 2.95 million households, as well as oil and LPG terminals on the island, the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry said in a statement.
Hokkaido Electric first intended to restart its five hydropower plants in order to restart its thermal power plants, as it needs the hydropower to restart the thermal plants, according to the company officials.
SOME POWER PLANTS TO BE RESTARTED
As of 1 pm local time Thursday, Hokkaido Electric had however restarted around 20 of its 56 hydropower plants, METI said in an updated statement. The utility also restarted the No. 3 125 MW coal-fired unit at the Sunagawa power plant following the earthquake, the company officials said.
Prior to the earthquake, Hokkaido Electric was operating the 350 MW No. 1, 600 MW No. 2 and 700 MW No. 4 coal-fired units at its largest 1.65 GW Tomato-Atsuma power plant, according to company officials.
Hokkaido Electric had aimed to restart the 700 MW Tomato-Atsuma No. 4 coal-fired unit first, but METI then said in its updated statement that this would take more time as fire had been detected at the unit's turbine, adding that it has already been put out. The utility also detected some damage to boiler pipes at the No. 1 and No. 2 units at the plant, according to METI. The ministry added that the Tomato-Atsuma coal-fired power plant will need more than a week to be restarted.
Prior to the earthquake, the power utility was also operating a 350 MW oil-fired unit each at the Shiriuchi and Date power plants, and a 175 MW coal-fired power unit at the Naie plant in Hokkaido, the officials said.
Hokkaido Electric now aims to restart the coal-fired Naie power plant, as well as the Shiriuchi and Date power plants Friday, METI said.
It was not immediately clear how many of its 56 hydropower plants were in operation prior to the earthquake.
In the wake of power outages, Hokkaido Electric has also started to supply power from its idled Tomari nuclear power plants from three emergency diesel-fueled power generators to cool used fuel rods at the idled No. 1, No. 2 and No. 3 nuclear reactors, the officials said.
The utility currently has sufficient diesel for about 10 days to fuel its 4,740 KW emergency generators each for its 579 MW No. 1 nuclear unit and its 579 MW No.2 reactor, as well as for its 5,900 KW emergency generator for the 912 MW No. 3 nuclear unit at the Tomari nuclear power plant, the official said.
REFINING, LPG IMPACT
An Idemitsu Koran spokesman said Thursday that all refining units as well as waterborne and truck oil product shipments at the Hokkaido refinery had been suspended due to the earthquake. Idemitsu Kosan's 150,000 b/d refinery is the only refinery in Hokkaido.
JXTG Nippon Oil & Energy reported no facility damage at its Muroran plant in Hokkaido, where it is operating normally using its in-house power generation units, according to METI. In March 2014, refining operations were suspended at Muroran, where the company produces some petrochemicals and oil products.
But JXTG's Rumoi oil terminal, which had faced a power outage earlier Thursday, restarted shipments after using emergency power generation, and it has also restarted shipments from its Wakkanai and Kushiro Nishiko oil terminals, METI said.
Tozai Oil Terminal's Tomakomai oil terminal is still undergoing a power outage despite no facility damage, METI said, adding that Japan Oil Network JONET's Tomakomai oil terminal restarted shipments after securing emergency energy supply, METI said.
Showa Shell also restarted shipments from the Kushiro Nishiko oil terminal after securing emergency power supply, with Idemitsu being ready to restart shipments at its Hakodate and Kushiro oil terminals on emergency energy supply, METI added.
Japanese LPG importers Astosmo Energy and Eneos Globe have suspended LPG shipments from their Tomakomani import terminal and Ishikari satellite terminal, respectively, in Hokkaido due to the earthquake, although these terminals also reported no facility damage, METI said.
METI added there is no reported damage or impact on Hokkaido's city gas supply from the earthquake.
--Edited by James Leech, firstname.lastname@example.org