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Japan’s crude oil imports increase for the first time in a decade


Crude oil imports in Japan, the world’s fourth-largest crude buyer, jumped by 8.5% annually in 2022, the first yearly increase in a decade, while the value of crude imports nearly doubled to a record, data from the Japanese Finance Ministry showed on January 19.

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Last year, many large energy importers – including resource-poor Japan – focused on energy security after the Russian invasion of Ukraine and the spike in commodity prices as a result of the war.

So, Japan imported last year a total of 156.62 million kiloliters of crude oil, or 2.7 million barrels per day (bpd), according to the data. The value of the imports surged by 91.5    % compared to 2021 and hit $103 billion (13.27 trillion yen), due to the jump in oil prices and a weakening of the Japanese yen.

The average price of crude per kiloliter of imports hit the highest level on record in data going back to 1979, according to the finance ministry.

Meanwhile, Japan’s imports of LNG fell by 3.1% in volume but almost doubled in value as it surged by 97.5%.

Thermal coal imports for power generation rose by 2.5% but the value jumped by 196.7% after global thermal coal prices hit records last year following the Russian invasion of Ukraine and the EU ban on coal imports that came into effect in August.

To limit its dependence on fossil fuel resources it has to import, Japan is bringing back nuclear power as a key energy source, looking to protect its energy security in the crisis that has led to surging fossil fuel prices.

The Japanese government confirmed in December a new policy for nuclear energy, which the country had mostly abandoned since the Fukushima disaster in 2011. A panel of experts under the Japanese Ministry of Industry decided that Japan would allow the development of new nuclear reactors and allow available reactors to operate after the current limit of 60 years.

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