By MARI IWATA
TOKYO -- JX Nippon Oil & Energy Corp., Japan's largest
oil refiner by capacity, said Friday that it will permanently
stop processing crude oil at its 180,000-bpd Muroran refinery by March 2014 as part of
efforts to reduce excess oil refining capacity.
Japan's oil demand has been edging lower since the mid-2000s
due to widespread adoption of energy-efficient vehicles. The
country imported 3.6 million bpd of crude in 2011, down 16%
compared with 2005, according to government data.
JX Nippon, a unit of JX Holdings, will have crude processing
capacity of 1.21 million bpdafter it stops processing crude at
Muroran. "Our refinery operating rate will rise to
near full capacity," executive vice president Yukio Uchida told
Idemitsu Kosan Co.'s 140,000-bpd Hokkaido refinery will be
the only refinery on Japan's northernmost
island after the move. But JX will keep oil tanks in the site
and transport refined products from its other refineries to
Muroran to ensure adequate supply, Mr. Uchida said.
JX will maintain some secondary units there as well, to
produce petrochemical products - mainly
toluene and xylene - to be used as feedstock for a paraxylene
joint venture in South Korea with SK Global Chemical.
That venture is scheduled to start commercial operations
in August 2014, Mr. Uchida said.
Dow Jones Newswires