South Korea’s move to shut coal-fired generators to control air pollution at the same time as nuclear reactors are going into scheduled maintenance is resulting in surging fuel oil imports, as utilities burn the dirty feedstock to meet power demand. A cold winter has raised power and heating demand, forcing utilities to burn more fuel oil in order to meet demand. “In the near-term, fuel oil imports will increase to make up for the shortfall in coal-fired generation capacity,” said Pat Markey, managing director of consultancy Sierra Vista Resources. Even with the increase in fuel oil purchases, South Korea will have to raise imports of other fuels to meet demand as nearly half of its nuclear power plants are down for maintenance. LNG is the most likely fuel to fill the gaps. Thomson Reuters Eikon data shows South Korea’s LNG shipments reached nearly 12 million tonnes between January and March 14, up 1.5 percent from the first quarter of last year. – Reuters

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