Japex shuts Soma LNG terminal after earthquake

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

The strong earthquake occurred on February 13, hitting the Fukushima and Miyagi prefectures and forcing the closure of more than a dozen coal and gas-fired power plants.

The devastating earthquake in 2011 also hit the same areas offshore Japan.

Following the new quake, Japex suspended operations and the supply of LNG at the terminal in Shinchi Town, but Fukushima Gas Power also closed the adjacent gas-fired power plant.

Japex said in a statement it is assessing the facilities’ damage and has not yet determined when it would restart the LNG terminal.

In addition, there has been no damage to the surrounding area, such as gas leakage from the terminal, the firm said.

“Due to the suspension of supply operations immediately after the earthquake, BOG (boil-off gas), the vaporized gas from LNG stored in the storage tanks, is being burned as a measure to release the gas safely,” Japex said.

By taking these measures, the terminal emits flames from the flare stack, but there are no safety issues at the facility or the surrounding area, the firm added.

To remind, Japex announced in August last year the start of commercial operations of the second LNG tank and additional regasification facilities at the Soma terminal.

At the same time, the firm and its partners in Fukushima Gas Power started operations at the adjacent second gas-fueled power plant.

With the additional tank, the terminal now features two tanks with a 230,000 kiloliter capacity, jetties, and regas facilities.

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

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