A Tokyo Electric Power Co. and Chubu Electric Power Co. joint venture is planning to expand overseas sales of coal as demand is expected to slow at home.
The venture, Jera Co., will start coal blending operations at the port of New Castle in Australia in cooperation with partner EDF Trading Ltd., President Yuji Kakimi said in an interview in Tokyo on Thursday. Asian nations demand a different quality of coal from Japanese power companies and Jera wants to double its coal sales to other companies to 2 million metric tons by 2022, Kakimi said.
Jera will target countries such as South Korea and Taiwan to sell blended coal from the Australian port, he said.
“Japan is like ‘we eat only Koshihikari-type rice and don’t eat other varieties.’ ” Kakimi said, referring to one of the most popular varieties of sticky rice grown in the country. “Others in the Asian market have a different taste.”
Tokyo Electric and Chubu Electric, Japan’s biggest and third-largest utilities, plan to merge their thermal power operations as they seek to lower costs. Expanding thermal coal sales to other Japanese utilities and Asian nations could help the joint venture improve bargaining power with suppliers and reduce fuel costs.
“As Japan’s domestic demand won’t grow much, Jera must shift to overseas businesses in the long run,” Hidetoshi Shioda, an analyst at SMBC Nikko Securities Inc., said by phone. The move “would help them reduce fuel costs,” he said.
Jera, which will integrate the two partners fuel transportation and trading businesses on Oct. 1, will increase its annual coal trading volume to 30 million tons by 2022, Kakimi said. Tokyo Electric and Chubu Electric procured about 20 million tons combined in the year ended March 31, 2014, he said.