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Japan To Boost Energy Cooperation With Russia

Amid growing uncertainties on the global oil market, Japan is looking to boost its energy cooperation with Russia, and international sanctions on Moscow don’t prohibit cooperation, Japan’s Economy, Trade and Industry Minister Hiroshige Seko said in a written interview with S&P Global Platts published on Friday.

Japan, which relies almost exclusively on imports of crude oil and liquefied natural gas (LNG) to meet its demand for those products, sees the benefit of shorter travel times and safer routes for deliveries from Russia’s Far East, amid increased uncertainties in the global oil market with the U.S. sanctions on Iran, according to Seko.

“Imports of Russian crude oil and LNG do not go through any chokepoints such as the Strait of Hormuz. Therefore they are important for the diversification of Japan's energy import sources, and I hope that Russia will play an even larger role. I would like to continue working to expand our cooperation,” Seko told Platts.

Currently, Japan relies heavily on imports from the Middle East, with cargoes having to pass through the Strait of Hormuz, which Iran has threatened to block numerous times over the past few years.

Japanese companies are also interested in taking part in planned LNG projects in Russia, including Arctic LNG 2, Baltic LNG, and the third train at Sakhalin, the Japanese minister said, noting that if Japanese firms secure participation, Japan could boost its LNG imports from Russia in the future.

Sanctions on Russia are not a concern for Japan, because Tokyo complies with them, yet sanctions “do not comprehensively prohibit Japan’s energy cooperation with Russia,” Seko told Platts.

Japanese and Russian firms have recently entered into an early agreement for possible future cooperation in LNG.

As Russia’s LNG producer Novatek is looking to boost LNG supply to the growing Asian market, the Russian firm has recently signed a preliminary agreement with Japan’s Saibu Gas, under which the companies will consider potential cooperation in entering the end-consumer LNG market in Asia. Novatek will optimize its LNG supplies to the Asia-Pacific region by using Saibu Gas’s Hibiki LNG terminal in Japan, the Russian firm said in December.

By Tsvetana Paraskova for Oilprice.com

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