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INTERVIEW: Mitsui chief touts LNG project in Louisiana

  • October 25, 2019
  • , Jiji Press , 8:01 p.m.
  • English Press

Hackberry, Louisiana, Oct. 24 (Jiji Press)–Mitsui & Co. <8031> President Tatsuo Yasunaga stressed on Thursday the benefits of a liquefied natural gas export project in the U.S. state of Louisiana, in which the Japanese trading house is participating.

“It’s a highly flexible project and can meet the needs among Japanese clients for diversifying procurement sources,” he said in an interview with Jiji Press.

A ceremony was held on the day to mark the completion of facilities for the project, bringing together about 300 participants, including Louisiana Governor John Edwards and Shinsuke Sugiyama, Japan’s ambassador to the United States.

Besides Mitsui, trader Mitsubishi Corp. <8058> and shipping company Nippon Yusen K.K. <9101>, both from Japan, Sempra Energy of the United States and French energy giant Total are members of the project.

The project plans to produce 12 million tons of LNG a year, with Mitsui and Mitsubishi slated to sell 4 million tons each, to customers in Japan and other markets. In Japan, Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc. <9501>, Tohoku Electric Power Co. <9506> and Toho Gas Co. <9533> are set to buy LNG from the project under long-term contracts.

“A shift from coal to gas is not irreversible” as tackling climate change has become a global challenge, Yasunaga said in the interview, suggesting that demand for natural gas, which emits less greenhouse gas than coal when burned, will continue to grow.

Demand in Japan, which imports some 80 million tons of LNG annually now, “is unlikely to grow substantially in the future,” but LNG consumption will increase in other parts of Asia, such as China, he said.

Unlike LNG produced in the Middle East, prices of U.S.-produced LNG are less correlated with oil prices, and resale to third parties is possible, he said, emphasizing the opportunities to be created by such flexibility.

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