Japan to supply part of LNG imports to Europe amid Ukraine crisis

Japan will supply part of its liquefied natural gas imports to Europe as simmering tensions between Russia and the West over Ukraine undermine energy security in the region, the minister said on Wednesday. Koichi Hagiuda Industry.

Japan, a major LNG importer, will ensure sufficient supplies for domestic needs before helping European countries facing the threat of Russian gas supply disruptions in the event of another Moscow incursion into Ukraine, according to government sources.

File photo taken in January 2020 showing a ship carrying liquefied natural gas arriving at a dock in Kawagoe, Mie prefecture. (Kyodo)

The government is likely to ask Japanese companies involved in the LNG trade for cooperation while continuing discussions on the volume and timing of diversion of LNG to Europe.

With about 40% of Europe’s LNG imports coming from Russia, the United States has asked Japan to extend its energy aid to ensure a stable energy supply in the region during the winter.

The United States has warned of sanctions if Russia, which has massed troops near the Ukrainian border, invades. There are growing fears that Moscow could drastically restrict LNG exports to Europe in retaliation for Western sanctions.

At an energy council meeting in Washington earlier this week, the United States and the European Union affirmed their commitment to addressing risks to the bloc’s energy supply.

EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell told the meeting that Russia was not shy about using its energy supplies in Europe “as a weapon for geopolitical gain” as oil prices energy are increasing worldwide.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, noting that Russian state-owned companies are holding back natural gas exports, said Washington was in talks with governments and major producers around the world to bolster energy supplies across Europe. , including Ukraine.

US President Joe Biden also warned on Monday, after speaking with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, that the yet to be activated Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline project linking Germany and Russia via the sea Baltic, would be interrupted if Russian troops crossed. in Ukraine.

Japan’s LNG initiative is part of these international efforts.

But in Japan, growth in demand for LNG for heating tends to outpace supply in February, according to an energy sector official.

“We will investigate if there is anything we can do without affecting people’s daily lives,” Hagiuda said earlier this month.

While Japan has a larger LNG inventory this winter than last winter, some players in the energy sector believe that it would be difficult to supply a surplus of LNG in February due to the possibility of an increase in demand.

The United States has urged Japan to consider imposing economic sanctions on Moscow if Russian troops invade Ukraine, diplomatic sources say.

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Christi C. Elwood