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UPDATE 1-Japan's quake-rattled utilities return units to power after shutdowns

TOKYO, Feb 15 (Reuters) - Japan’s Tohoku Electric Power and JERA said they had returned some units to operation after a large earthquake at the weekend knocked out large fossil-fuel power stations, in another test for Japan’s electricity grid after a prolonged cold snap.

Japan Petroleum Exploration Co also said it had shut a gas power station and an associated liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminal in Fukushima, north of Tokyo, after the quake.

The magnitude 7.3-earthquake injured more than 150, causing damage throughout the northern region, including Fukushima, in a further test of a beleaguered electricity grid brought close to blackout last month by cold weather.

After the quake knocked out generation capacity, Tohoku Electric had been forced to seek power supplies from other regional utilities on Sunday, a spokesman said.

“As for today, we have enough supply capacity, but will continue to watch the situation carefully and consider measures to secure stable power supplies if needed,” the spokesman told Reuters by telephone on Monday.

To satisfy demand, the company has restarted units halted before the quake, as well as a big station that shut down automatically when the quake struck just before midnight on Saturday. It also shut two units for checks afterwards.

JERA is restarting one unit at its Hirono coal power station on Monday and another unit on Tuesday after they were shut down by the quake, a spokesman said.

Japex has no date to resume operations at its power station or LNG terminal, a specialized facility for receiving and storing natural gas brought in liquid form on ships, the company said in a statement.

Wholesale prices of electricity have fallen to within the trading range on normal days, data on the Japan Electric Power Exchange showed, following Sunday’s jump in the quake aftermath.

The weekend quake caused no incident at nuclear plants, none of which have operated in northern Japan since the Fukushima disaster set off by the magnitude 9.0 earthquake of March 11, 2011 that set off a tsunami which killed nearly 20,000 people.

Reporting by Aaron Sheldrick and Yuka Obayashi; Additional reporting by Jessica Jaganathan in Singapore; Editing by Clarence Fernandez and Bernadette Baum

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