• Kyodo

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Chubu Electric Power Co. and Osaka Gas Co. said Thursday they will start working on a project next month to jointly build a natural gas pipeline connecting Mie and Shiga prefectures, their respective business areas.

The move is intended to supply natural gas used to generate electricity and produce city gas, enabling the two to cut costs and ensure stable supply, the two firms said.

It is the first time leading electric power and gas firms serving different regions have joined forces.

The two utilities are expected to spend 20 billion yen to 30 billion yen to build a pipeline 60 to 80 km long by around 2008.

The pipeline will run from either Chubu Electric’s Kawagoe thermal power plant in Mie Prefecture or its liquefied natural gas facility in Yokkaichi, Mie Prefecture, to a pipeline that Osaka Gas is building in Shiga Prefecture.

Osaka Gas plans to complete the construction of a 46-km pipeline between Kusatsu and Hikone in Shiga Prefecture by 2007.