« 究極の婚活 異業種交流会パーティー | トップページ | 女性の幹部登用 「なでしこ銘柄」増やしたい »

2013年5月22日 (水)

シェールガス 米国産輸入で高値買い是正を

The Yomiuri Shimbun May 22, 2013
Shale gas imports from U.S. to help remedy expensive LNG purchases
シェールガス 米国産輸入で高値買い是正を(5月21日付・読売社説)

The United States, which has seen a buoyant “shale gas revolution,” will open the way for the export of inexpensive natural gas to Japan.

In the wake of the crisis at Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant, almost all of the nation’s nuclear reactors have remained idle. Given that Japan has to depend on thermal power generation, it is an important step to diversify the origins from which it imports the fuel for this.

The U.S. Energy Department has authorized the export of liquefied natural gas by a Texas company, in which Chubu Electric Power Co. and Osaka Gas Co. are participants. Under the project, natural gas, including shale gas extracted from subterranean bedrock, will be liquefied and exported.

Chubu Electric and Osaka Gas reportedly plan to export up to 4.4 million tons of LNG annually from 2017. The amount is equivalent to 5 percent of Japan’s overall LNG imports.

The United States, in principle, had barred LNG exports to nations that it did not have a free trade agreement with, including Japan.

It is significant, however, that the United States authorized the exports to Japan for the first time as an exception. It was likely judged that increases in domestic prices in the United States could be avoided even if it exports the gas to Japan. This is because prospects on the supply and demand balance have eased due to sharp increases in production thanks to the shale gas revolution.

TPP may have swayed decision

Also aided by Japan’s decision to participate in Trans-Pacific Partnership multilateral trade negotiations, the administration of U.S. President Barack Obama likely attached weight to Japan-U.S. relations.

Enjoying the benefits of the shale gas revolution, Japan now will be able to obtain cheap gas.

The price of LNG Japan imports from Qatar and other nations is about 17 dollars per million BTU (British thermal unit), which is four times higher than the price in North America.

Japan, which has yet to reactivate idled nuclear reactors, has been forced to purchase LNG at high prices, referred to as a “Japan premium,” as producer nations are taking advantage of Japan’s situation. The trade deficit, which reached a record high of more than 8 trillion yen in fiscal 2012, is mainly attributed to LNG imports.

Gas brings negotiating power

If the nation imports gas produced in the United States, the price will be cheaper at about 10 dollars, even with liquefaction and transport costs included. Japan also can expect to take an advantageous position in LNG price negotiations with nations in the Middle East and other areas, using cooperation with the United States as a bargaining chip.

In the United States, the Mitsubishi Corp. and Mitsui & Co. consortium as well as Sumitomo Corp. have been participating in natural gas development projects. The public and private sectors should join together to lobby for early authorization of export projects involving these companies so that Japan could further correct the problem of expensive LNG purchases.

It will take about four years for imports of natural gas from the United States to begin. Unless nuclear reactors are reactivated, the situation will remain unchanged as the nation will continue to depend on thermal power generation for the time being, having no choice but to face high fuel costs.

To stem the outflow of national wealth, the government needs to steadily reactivate nuclear reactors whose safety has been confirmed. The nation must create a comprehensive strategy for a stable supply of energy.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, May 21, 2013)
(2013年5月21日01時25分  読売新聞)


« 究極の婚活 異業種交流会パーティー | トップページ | 女性の幹部登用 「なでしこ銘柄」増やしたい »





« 究極の婚活 異業種交流会パーティー | トップページ | 女性の幹部登用 「なでしこ銘柄」増やしたい »