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Japan PM’s nuclear push faces resistance ahead of election

By Sakura Murakami

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Japan PM's nuclear push faces resistance ahead of election
© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: An anti-nuclear activist demonstrates in front of the Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings office in Niigata, Niigata Prefecture, Japan, October 21, 2021. REUTERS/Sakura Murakami

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By Sakura Murakami

KASHIWAZAKI, Japan (Reuters) – Prime Minister Fumio Kishida’s push to restart Japanese nuclear power plants idled after the Fukushima disaster faces stiff opposition ahead of a general election on Sunday, where his future as leader hangs in the balance if the vote is tight.

A decade after triple meltdowns at Fukushima forced mass evacuations and a shut-down of the nuclear industry, Japan has restarted only a third of its 33 operable reactors.

Debate over whether to fire more of them back up is highly charged, with 40% of the population opposing the move.

It matters most in rural cities hosting the idled plants which had once relied on them for economic activity, such as Kashiwazaki, 265 km (165 miles) northwest of Tokyo – home to the world’s largest atomic power complex.

“The reason why we feel so strongly about this is because we feel the danger of the nuclear power plant – it hangs over our heads every day,” said Mie Kuwabara, a resident of a town close to Kashiwazaki and anti-nuclear activist.

Voters mostly care about economic recovery from the pandemic. But energy policy came into sharp focus last month, when Kishida beat a popular anti-nuclear candidate in the race for the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) chief.

The architect of Kishida’s victory, party veteran Akira Amari, assumed a key party post and immediately pushed for restarts of 30 reactors while also promoting new, smaller reactors to replace ageing ones.

Amari says Japan must revert to nuclear power to meet its 2050 carbon neutrality pledge, avoid rapidly rising prices of imported coal and gas and to cut its reliance on other countries for energy needs.

Amari faces a tight race in his home district, where he is struggling to attract support from anti-nuclear junior coalition partner, Komeito.

Opposition to his plan is strong in Kashiwazaki too.

“This prefecture as a whole, even within the LDP, is united behind the idea that the nuclear power plant can’t be restarted,” said Mineo Ono, who runs the LDP’s local chapter where anti-nuclear proponent Taro Kono polled higher than Kishida in the leadership race vote.

Ono cited local distrust caused by what he called multiple mishaps by the plant’s operator, Tokyo Electric Power Holdings (Tepco).

The nuclear regulator upended plans for a restart of the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa plant, which can power 24 million households, in April, after identifying operational issues including faulty intruder detection alarms and the misuse of ID cards.

Nation-wide, restarts have been delayed by technical issues, lawsuits and regulatory reviews.

Tepco in an emailed statement apologised and said it would work to regain the trust of locals. It added that while nuclear energy is instrumental in achieving carbon neutrality, the time is not right to discuss restarts.

That poses a problem for the LDP, which polls show is on the brink of losing its simple majority, an outcome that would still let it cling to power thanks to the coalition with Komeito, but that may lead to a push inside the party to oust Kishida.

The government said in its latest energy policy on Friday it would double 2020 levels of renewable energy to 38%, but has maintained nuclear power will provide some 22% of the country’s energy by 2030, up from 6% in the 2018 financial year.

‘DIVIDING FACTOR’

Kashiwazaki, a town of 80,000, sits on the coast of the Sea of Japan. In the evening, buses unload workers maintaining the complex around the main train station.

“We host the world’s biggest nuclear plant, but that energy goes mostly to Tokyo and its surrounding regions. Locals feel deeply about that,” LDP’s Ono said. There is a ‘divide’ between the sentiment of the locals and people in Tokyo, he said.

A restart is critical for Tepco, which needs money to fund the clean-up at its Fukushima plant. Restarting Kashiwazaki-Kariwa would save an estimated $790 million per year in fuel costs, it says.

But even the local chamber of commerce, instrumental in wooing the plant which started operations in 1985, says it is tired of what it sees as Tepco’s repeated failures.

“It’s almost unbearable, seeing how shoddy they are,” said chamber of commerce chief Masao Saikawa.

To allay these fears, Kenichi Hosoda, the LDP candidate in the district who serves as the vice minister at the Ministry of Industry overseeing energy policy, has toned down his pro-nuclear message.

“Now is not the time to discuss the issue,” he told Reuters after a recent rally held near the plant.

In response to a question on why discussions on the nuclear plant have been toned down before the vote, local LDP leader Ono spoke of “a large group of swing voters who the candidates have to capture.”

“When it comes down to it, the issue of nuclear energy will be the dividing factor. It’s a fact that the nuclear element has an influence,” said Ono.

Commodities

Halliburton says not buying Exxon stake in Iraqi oilfield

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Halliburton says not buying Exxon stake in Iraqi oilfield
© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: A member of security foreign personnel walks with an Exxon’s foreign staff of the West Qurna-1 oilfield, which is operated by ExxonMobil, during the opening ceremony near Basra, Iraq June 17, 2019. REUTERS/Essam Al-Sudani

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By Aref Mohammed

BASRA, Iraq (Reuters) -Halliburton has not proposed buying Exxon Mobil (NYSE:)’s stake in Iraq’s West Qurna 1 oilfield, a spokesperson for the U.S. oil services company said on Wednesday, denying comments from a senior official from Iraq’s Basra Oil Co. (BOC).

“We are not buying an oil field and are not partnering to buy an oil field. We do not typically discuss commercial terms for bids or tenders, but in this case we want to be clear that we are not buying any fields,” said Halliburton (NYSE:) spokesperson Emily Mir.

Hassan Mohammed, deputy BOC manager in charge of oilfields and licensing rounds affairs, earlier told a press conference that Halliburton had submitted a proposal to buy Exxon’s stake in the southern West Qurna 1 field

He added, however, that the Iraqi government’s preferred option was for BOC itself to buy Exxon’s stake in the field.

Iraq said in April that Exxon was seeking to sell its 32.7% stake in West Qurna 1, and that the oil ministry had started discussions over a possible deal.

Separately, Iraq will start work to maintain and upgrade its key undersea oil exports pipelines and its two onshore ports that will help boost export capacity to six million barrels per day (bpd) in 2025 from 3.2 million bpd currently, Ahmed Fadhil, deputy BOC manager in charge of oil exports facilities upgrading operations told Reuters.

Fadhil said bids had been completed to invite foreign services companies to compete to build two undersea 48-inch oil exports pipelines to replace existing outdated lines.

Construction work to build the two lines to ship to the Basra offshore terminal is expected to start in the second quarter of 2022 and the new undersea lines are expected to be operational in mid 2024, said Fadhil.

A third undersea pipeline is under construction currently and is expected to be completed in mid 2023. The three export lines have a combined capacity to export three million bpd.

Iraq has also awarded a deal to a Russian company to assess damages and start repair works on another 42-inch undersea export pipe which transport crude oil to its Khor al-Amaya terminal, one of its two southern offshore oil export terminals, said Fadhil, without naming the company.

Loading operations have been halted at Khor al-Amaya since 2017 when the pipeline suffered ruptures and leakages, and had to be shut.

Maintenance operations are expected to be completed to bring back crude loading operations at Khor al-Amaya by the end of 2022, with initial capacity to pump 400,000 bpd, said Fadhil.

Disclaimer: Fusion Media would like to remind you that the data contained in this website is not necessarily real-time nor accurate. All CFDs (stocks, indexes, futures) and Forex prices are not provided by exchanges but rather by market makers, and so prices may not be accurate and may differ from the actual market price, meaning prices are indicative and not appropriate for trading purposes. Therefore Fusion Media doesn`t bear any responsibility for any trading losses you might incur as a result of using this data.

Fusion Media or anyone involved with Fusion Media will not accept any liability for loss or damage as a result of reliance on the information including data, quotes, charts and buy/sell signals contained within this website. Please be fully informed regarding the risks and costs associated with trading the financial markets, it is one of the riskiest investment forms possible.

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Commodities

U.S. could tweak timing of oil stockpile release if prices fall -official

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U.S. could change timing of oil stockpile release if prices drop -official
© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: The Bryan Mound Strategic Petroleum Reserve, an oil storage facility, is seen in this aerial photograph over Freeport, Texas, U.S., April 27, 2020. REUTERS/Adrees Latif

By Timothy Gardner

WASHINGTON (Reuters) -The Biden administration could adjust the timing of its planned release of strategic stockpiles if global energy prices drop substantially, U.S. Deputy Energy Secretary David Turk told Reuters on Wednesday.

Turk, speaking in a video interview for the Reuters Next conference https://reutersevents.com/events/next to be broadcast later on Wednesday, added that other consumer nations that had agreed to release strategic reserves in concert with the United States to tame prices could also adjust their timing if needed.

“I think each country will make decisions based on what’s useful and good for their consumers and based on where the price is,” he said.

The administration of President Joe Biden had announced last month https://www.reuters.com/markets/commodities/us-set-unveil-emergency-oil-release-bid-fight-high-prices-2021-11-23 that it would release 50 million barrels from the U.S. Strategic Petroleum Reserve, alongside smaller releases from China, India, Japan, South Korea and Britain, to help lower consumer energy costs.

The unusual agreement was designed to tame soaring energy prices after the OPEC producer group and its allies rebuffed repeated requests from Washington and other consumer nations to pump more quickly to match rising demand as the world began to exit the pandemic.

Oil prices have since declined, however, amid worries that the new Omicron variant https://www.reuters.com/business/healthcare-pharmaceuticals/omicron-variant-could-outcompete-delta-south-african-disease-expert-says-2021-11-30 of the coronavirus will spread and trigger extensive lockdowns, reducing global energy demand.

“The president gave us flexibility,” Turk said about the U.S. planned release of strategic stockpiles.

“So if the price of oil goes down significantly, if the pain at the pump that is currently being experienced by consumers around our country, and around the world as well, dissipates for whatever reason, then we use the tools differently,” he said.

“The metric of success for any policy from our end related to these issues is what is the price at the pump? … not whether we get 50 million barrels out as quickly as we possibly can,” he said.

Turk added that the White House was still studying proposals from some of Biden’s fellow Democratic lawmakers to ban crude oil exports to keep prices down, saying it remained among the range of tools the administration could eventually use.

“We’ve certainly heard from members of Congress who feel both ways on this issue,” he said. “And so we’re putting together all that analysis, all that information to inform decision making by our secretary and ultimately by the president.”

To watch the Reuters Next conference please register here https://reutersevents.com/events/next/

Disclaimer: Fusion Media would like to remind you that the data contained in this website is not necessarily real-time nor accurate. All CFDs (stocks, indexes, futures) and Forex prices are not provided by exchanges but rather by market makers, and so prices may not be accurate and may differ from the actual market price, meaning prices are indicative and not appropriate for trading purposes. Therefore Fusion Media doesn`t bear any responsibility for any trading losses you might incur as a result of using this data.

Fusion Media or anyone involved with Fusion Media will not accept any liability for loss or damage as a result of reliance on the information including data, quotes, charts and buy/sell signals contained within this website. Please be fully informed regarding the risks and costs associated with trading the financial markets, it is one of the riskiest investment forms possible.

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Commodities

U.S. could change timing of oil stockpile release if prices drop -official

Published

on

U.S. could change timing of oil stockpile release if prices drop -official
© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: The Bryan Mound Strategic Petroleum Reserve, an oil storage facility, is seen in this aerial photograph over Freeport, Texas, U.S., April 27, 2020. REUTERS/Adrees Latif

By Timothy Gardner

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The Biden administration could adjust the timing of its planned release of strategic stockpiles if global energy prices drop substantially, U.S. Deputy Energy Secretary David Turk told Reuters on Wednesday.

Turk, speaking in a video interview for the Reuters Next conference https://reutersevents.com/events/next to be broadcast later on Wednesday, added that other consumer nations that had agreed to release strategic reserves in concert with the United States to tame prices could also adjust their timing if needed.

“I think each country will make decisions based on what’s useful and good for their consumers and based on where the price is,” he said.

To watch the Reuters Next conference please register here https://reutersevents.com/events/next/

Disclaimer: Fusion Media would like to remind you that the data contained in this website is not necessarily real-time nor accurate. All CFDs (stocks, indexes, futures) and Forex prices are not provided by exchanges but rather by market makers, and so prices may not be accurate and may differ from the actual market price, meaning prices are indicative and not appropriate for trading purposes. Therefore Fusion Media doesn`t bear any responsibility for any trading losses you might incur as a result of using this data.

Fusion Media or anyone involved with Fusion Media will not accept any liability for loss or damage as a result of reliance on the information including data, quotes, charts and buy/sell signals contained within this website. Please be fully informed regarding the risks and costs associated with trading the financial markets, it is one of the riskiest investment forms possible.

Continue Reading

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