TAKEFUMI KAWAGUCHI, Nikkei staff writer
TOKYO — Tokyo Gas has purchased an interest in a U.S. natural gas field in a deal worth roughly 20 billion yen ($188 million), part of a spending spree by the Japanese energy supplier to take advantage of a buyer’s market during a commodities slump.
Texas, U.S.-based subsidiary Tokyo Gas America acquired a stake in a gas project in the Gulf Coast state of Louisiana. The seller, Range Resources, agreed to a price that is nearly 20% less than what was originally anticipated.
“American explorers are prone to unload assets as gas prices have slumped due to the novel coronavirus,” said a source from Tokyo Gas’s overseas advancement team, explaining how the company was able to purchase the stake at a discount.
This is the fourth natural gas interest in Tokyo Gas’ portfolio. The group also took over exploration equipment as part of last month’s deal.
The transaction was made through Castleton Resources, a unit under Tokyo Gas America. In a gambit to acquire the gas interest, Tokyo Gas raised its stake in Castleton Resources to 70% in July. U.S. gas trader Castleton Commodities International owns the rest of the unit.
Range Resources sold off approximately 26 billion yen worth of natural gas assets in the deal. Castleton Resources took roughly 20 billion yen while Castleton Commodities International acquired about 6 billion yen.
Through the acquisition, Castleton Resources will expand its annual gas production capacity to 4.7 billion cu. meters from 2.9 billion cu. meters.
Tokyo Gas invested in a string of U.S. shale gas exploration projects between 2013 and 2017. The company anticipates that the U.S., which is experiencing extreme weather due to global warming, will shift to natural gas as a low carbon-emitting alternative energy source in the medium term.
Tokyo Gas’ business plan through fiscal 2022 emphasizes an accelerated expansion of overseas operations. Plans call for investment in commercial companies already on the ground rather than becoming directly involved in gas exploration and other projects.
North America will be the central focus of this expansion, although Tokyo Gas is spending capital in Asia as well. The goal is to raise income from offshore businesses to 16 billion yen, up from the 12.5 billion yen projected for fiscal 2019.
On the other hand, some Japanese peers are exiting from U.S. shale gas. Trading conglomerate Sumitomo Corp. announced Monday it will offload its entire 30% interest in the Marcellus Shale project in the state of Pennsylvania. Sumitomo is expected to recoup over 10 billion yen from the sale.