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Japan Research Institute, an affiliate of Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corp., said Thursday it has tied up with two U.S. energy service ventures to get advice on launching new services when Japan’s energy market is expected to be opened further.

The tieup with Avista Advantage Inc. of Spokane, Wash., and Pennsylvania-based Ecom-Energy Inc. is expected to lead to the creation of a venture company by March 2003 that will engage in broad cost-cutting and onsite supply services to relatively small energy users, it said.

The type of business, called energy service provider, is rapidly growing in the United States but has yet to emerge in Japan, where competition in the power sector is limited, it said.

If the market is fully liberalized, however, its scale will expand from 22 trillion yen to 100 trillion yen in 1999 as new businesses, including energy futures trading and ESPs, take hold.

Initially targeting franchise chain stores, hospitals and municipalities, the new business is also expected to force the 10 existing power companies with regional monopolies to improve efficiency and cut charges, it said.

The U.S. firms, meanwhile, will examine during the tieup, due in March 2003, the feasibility of entering the world’s second-largest energy market, it said.

JRI launched an ESP consortium in May with major Japanese engineering, construction and financial companies.

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