Japan’s Japex shuts Soma LNG import terminal after earthquake

Japan Petroleum Exploration Co (Japex) said it has closed its Soma LNG import terminal after a magnitude 7.3 earthquake struck offshore Fukushima.

The strong earthquake occurred on March 16 at around 11:36 p.m., hitting the Fukushima prefecture.

The devastating earthquake in 2011 also hit the same area offshore Japan. A magnitude 7.3 earthquake struck offshore Fukushima in February last year when Japex had closed the Soma LNG import facility as well.

In a report on Thursday, Japex said it has suspended the operation of the LNG terminal for safety confirmation.

This also relates to the power generation facilities located adjacent to the terminal and operated by Fukushima Gas Power.

Following the blackout that occurred due to the earthquake, an emergency electricity generator in the LNG terminal provides electricity required for safety, according to the firm.

After confirming the facility’s safe operations, Japex said it would switch the power to the external power.

Damage to some of the facilities

“From around 5 a.m. today, which is after the Tsunami warning has been lifted, we have been proceeding with the visual confirmation of terminal facilities and confirmed damages to some of the facilities so far,” Japex said.

Japex is currently assessing the facility in detail, and said it could not determine the timing when it would resume operations at the 1.5 mtpa LNG terminal.

“There has been no damage to the surrounding area, such as gas leakage from the terminal,” it said.

Due to the suspension of supply operations immediately after the earthquake, the terminal is burning boil-off gas or BOG, the vaporized gas from LNG stored in the storage tanks, as a measure to release the gas safely.

By taking these measures, the terminal’s flare stack emits flames, but “there are no safety issues at the terminal or the surrounding area,” the firm said.

In August 2020, Japex had launched commercial operations of the second LNG tank and additional regasification facilities at the Soma terminal.

The firm and its partners in Fukushima Gas Power had started operations at the adjacent second gas-fueled power plant as well.

The terminal features two tanks with a 230,000 kiloliter capacity, jetties, regas and truck loading facilities.

Japex is in charge of the terminal’s operation and gas supply to the power plant.

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