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Tokyo Gas eyes cost control for LNG projects

Bloomberg

Tokyo Gas Co. is seeking to take majority stakes in liquefied natural gas projects in Southeast Asia or Africa as it seeks to reduce the cost of imports.

Japan’s biggest gas supplier is interested in plants that can produce as much as 3 million metric tons a year of LNG, according to Shigeru Muraki, an executive vice president. It can have more operational control with a share in such “midsized” projects, rather than large ones, he said in an interview Monday. By comparison, Chevron Corp.’s planned Wheatstone facility in Western Australia will have an initial annual capacity of 8.9 million tons.

“We can probably team up with other Japanese companies such as JGC Corp. or Chiyoda Corp.,” Muraki said at the World Energy Congress in Daegu, South Korea.

Bringing down LNG prices is a pressing issue for Japan, where the superchilled fuel costs four times as much as in the U.S., Toshimitsu Motegi, the trade and industry minister, said in Tokyo in September. The country paid an average $16.37 per million British thermal units for LNG in July, according to data from LNG Japan Corp. That compares with about $3.64 in the same month for U.S. natural gas futures traded in New York.

Tokyo Gas’ operating expenses surged 9.3 percent in the quarter that ended June 30 amid higher import costs for LNG, a raw material used for city-gas supplies. The company plans to diversify its LNG supply sources by 2020 to mitigate the risk of price fluctuations.