The shutdown of a Japanese nuclear plant on 4 October has further dented Japan’s fragile nuclear confidence and may intensify global demand for liquefied natural gas (LNG).

A 1180 MW reactor at the Genkai plant in Saga shutdown automatically after a malfunction, according to Japan’s Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry. The exact cause of the problem is still under investigation.

Today French bank Societe Generale said the closure is “more bad news for the Japanese nuclear industry”.

Thierry Bros, a Paris-based analyst for the bank, said the Japanese nuclear industry “looks to face even more difficulties restarting reactors after planned maintenance and/or automatic shutdowns”.

He added that the shutdown of Genkai, which is owned by Kyushu Electric Power Co, could lead to a further rise in demand in an already tight LNG market, and Kyushu is reported to already have bought one LNG cargo following the reactor closure.

Societe Generale had predicted that worldwide LNG growth would be more than 10 per cent by the end of 2011, but it had already hit 14 per cent, to about 140 million metric tonnes, after the first seven months of this year.

For more nuclear news click here