TOKYO, Sept 8 (Reuters) – Japan’s trade ministry and Alaska’s Department of Natural Resources on Monday signed a memorandum of understanding to help Japan procure low-cost and stable supplies of liquefied natural gas(LNG), a government official said.
Exxon Mobil Corp, its partners and the state of Alaska in July sought federal permission to export 20 million tonnes of LNG annually from a project that is expected to eventually cost between $45 billion and $65 billion.
LNG imports by Japan, the world’s top buyer of the super-cooled fuel, have jumped since the Fukushima nuclear disaster, with utilities looking to boost supplies from North America to diversify supply sources and lower costly LNG import prices.
Japan will update the U.S. state on its LNG demand outlook and information on government schemes to help support Japanese private firms’ investments in Alaskan projects, while Alaska will apprise Japan on the progress of Exxon’s LNG project, a Japanese trade ministry official said.
Takayuki Ueda, Commissioner of the Agency for Natural Resources and Energy under the trade ministry and Alaska Natural Resources Commissioner Joe Balash signed the deal in Tokyo on Monday, the official added.
The shipping route from Alaska to Japan is shorter than that from the Middle East, helping Japan lower freight as well as LNG import prices, the official said.
(Reporting by Osamu Tsukimori; Editing by Biju Dwarakanath)