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A tanker docked Monday at a terminal in Sodegaura, Chiba Prefecture, with about 67,000 tons of liquefied natural gas, the first shipment of LNG from Russia’s Sakhalin-2 project.

Tokyo Gas Co. and Tokyo Electric Power Co., which jointly operate the LNG storage facility southeast of Tokyo, will share in shipments equally, with the gas company supplying the LNG as town gas and the electricity firm using it as fuel for its thermal power plants.

With Russia’s LNG project, Tokyo is hoping to reduce its energy dependence on the Middle East while Moscow is aiming to boost natural gas sales in the Asia-Pacific region in addition to Europe.

Some 60 percent of LNG output from the Sakhalin-2 project is earmarked for export to Japan and the remainder will go to South Korea and the United States.

LNG from Sakhalin is estimated to account for about 7 percent of Japan’s annual natural gas imports.

It takes only three days at the earliest for the shipments to arrive in the Tokyo area, compared with more than a week from Southeast Asia or the Middle East.

“There are large potential reserves (of LNG) in Sakhalin. We can expect our transactions will expand in the future,” a Tokyo Gas official said.

In addition to Tokyo Gas and Tepco, utilities in Kyushu and the Tohoku and Chubu regions as well as four key regional gas companies have contracts with the Sakhalin-2 project for LNG purchases.

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