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Japanese trading group Mitsui & Co., Ltd said on Monday that it had reached a deal with Royal Dutch Shell (NYSE:RDS.A) to buy a 20-percent working interest in four blocks in the Gulf of Mexico owned by a Shell subsidiary.
The blocks are located south-southeast of New Orleans, offshore Louisiana, and are estimated to have recoverable resources of more than 100 million barrels of oil equivalent, Mitsui said, without unveiling the price of the deal.
According to the Japanese company, “production of crude oil and gas would utilize the existing near field infrastructure, presenting opportunities for early commercialization at reduced development costs.”
Mitsui sees further exploration potential in the blocks, which may lead to a build-up of reserves.
The Japanese trader aims to build a portfolio of high-quality, low-cost reserves, and considers its upstream energy business a core business area.
Mitsui and other Japanese firms are not new players in the U.S. oil and gas assets.
Earlier this year, a Japanese company, Tokyo Gas, acquired 25 percent in an Eagle Ford shale gas asset when low commodity prices allowed Tokyo Gas to acquire it on the cheap.
Mitsui and another Japanese company, Marubeni, invested around US$1 billion each in Eagle Ford in 2011 and 2012.
Related: The Wider Ramifications Of The OPEC Deal
Mitsui is also invested in the Marcellus shale gas play and via joint development with its partners the Japanese group has secured around 135,000 net leasehold acres, and has participated in around 1,100 wells in the shale play.
More Japanese firms are looking to buy oil and gas assets around the globe, taking advantage of the depressed energy prices. The Japanese government arm Jogmec, for example, is flush with cash, having arranged financial backing totaling US$5.2 billion annually for oil and gas M&A.
Jogmec also helps foreign governments conduct geophysical surveys over prospective areas, which gives the Japanese firm a sort of “sneak peak” into asset prospects around the world.
By Tsvetana Paraskova for Oilprice.com
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Tsvetana is a writer for Oilprice.com with over a decade of experience writing for news outlets such as iNVEZZ and SeeNews.