* 4,724 bpd plant processes domestically produced oil
* Decision in line with falling oil production in Japan (Updates with confirmation by company, adds details)
TOKYO, Feb 14 (Reuters) - Japan’s top oil and gas explorer Inpex Corp said on Tuesday it plans to close the nation’s smallest refinery, an ageing complex that processes domestically produced crude, by the end of the year in line with a projected decline in domestic oil production.
The 4,724 barrels per day Kubiki refinery in Niigata prefecture in northern Japan, operated by Inpex unit Teiseki Topping Plant Co, is the nation’s only plant that processes domestically produced crude called condensate. It started operations in 1963.
Inpex plans to transfer some 56 employees from the plant to the Naoetsu liquefied natural gas (LNG) receiving terminal that it is building, which is due to start operations in 2014. It is considering what to do with the site of the Kubiki refinery after the closure, a company spokesman said. (Reporting by Osamu Tsukimori; Editing by Michael Watson)