TOKYO, June 14 (UPI) -- Japanese utility companies used 22 percent more liquefied natural gas compared with last year as nuclear operators have gone dark, the government said.
A magnitude-9 earthquake and tsunami struck northeastern Japan in March 2011, crippling the country's Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant and forcing Tokyo to pursue additional non-nuclear forms of energy.
Japan last month shut its last operating nuclear reactor for maintenance, leaving the country without nuclear power for the first time in more than 40 years.
Ten of the major utility companies in Japan consumed more than 4 million tons of LNG in May, a record for the month and a 22 percent increase from the same time last year, the Platts news service said, citing government records.
In terms of crude oil, demand is expected to reach a 10-year high during the summer as a result of the nuclear power outage. The outage means about 20 percent of the country's power capacity isn't available.
Japan was one of the seven countries listed this week by the U.S. State Department that have significantly cut back on the crude oil purchased from Iran.