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Japan's ENEOS sees winter fuel oil demand rising 150%, can only meet 100% surge

Japan's largest refiner ENEOS currently sees a 150% year-on-year increase in fuel oil demand from the power sector for winter, but can only meet up to a 100% surge, ENEOS Holdings Chairman Tsutomu Sugimori said Nov. 25.

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Speaking to reporters as President of the Petroleum Association of Japan, Sugimori said ENEOS was receiving a lot of inquiries from power utilities for fuel oil supply for winter amid high LNG prices.

Sugimori's comments came after company president Katsuyuki Ota said Nov. 11 that ENEOS was receiving a high number of inquiries from power utilities for fuel oil amid concerns that the country's refiners may not be able to meet all requests for the coming winter.

Last January, Japanese refiners boosted fuel oil supplies to power generators following an emergency request from the Federation of Electric Power Companies of Japan. That came as Japan experienced a power supply shortage as demand surged during extreme cold spells in January, with local power utilities forced to restrict gas-fired power generation due to low LNG stocks.

That was exacerbated by glitches at coal-fired power plants, low hydropower generation due to droughts, fluctuations in solar power output due to weather conditions, reduced oil-fired power generation capacity, and low nuclear power output.

Fuel oil sales to the domestic market rose 43% year on year to 179,585 b/d in January, Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry data showed. There was also a shipment of 751,109 barrels of crude oil for power generation, nearly double the 429,323 barrels in December 2020, and after no crude shipments for power generation in January 2020.

In February, fuel oil sales fell 20.2% month on month and 4.3% year on year to 143,370 b/d as oil demand for power declined with the replenishment of LNG stocks by mid-February, according to METI data. Crude oil shipments for power burn fell to 112,613 barrels in February.

Japan's fuel oil imports surged to 798,641 barrels in January and 1.27 million barrels in February from 164,157 barrels in December 2020, METI data showed. The fuel oil imports slid to 149,917 barrels in March as heating demand eased.