The former Foreign Minister of Japan, Seiji Maehara now the Chairman of the Council for political studies of the ruling Democratic Party of Japan says that Russia and Japan are studying the possibility of jointly constructing a gas pipeline. He was speaking at the end of his talks at the office of the Russian Gazprom.
The issue of building a gas pipeline on the seabed was raised by Russia this time. The Japanese politician expected this and had discussed it with representatives of the Japanese business community ahead of his trip to the Russian capital. Mr. Maehara says that his country is studying the Russian proposal. Japan sees the laying of a gas pipeline as an alternative to liquefied gas, which is shipped to the country in tankers. A preliminary study of the issue by specialists confirms that the project is technically possible. However, no specific route has been chosen for the construction of the pipeline, and it is unknown how much money Japan is prepared to invest in the project. It is clear though that the accident at the Fukushima plant has compelled Tokyo to switch from nuclear energy to fossil, and to seek cooperation with Russia, says Dmitry Lyutyagin, an independent analyst.
"From a purely economic point of view, that is quite reasonable, taking into consideration that Japan is ditching nuclear energy. The country will be having a shortfall in energy resources, which will lead to a greater demand for oil and gas", said Dmitry Lyutyagin.
The issue of a gas pipeline has featured at almost all Russo-Japanese talks at different levels, but politics has always gained the upper hand. The government of Japan has refused to give the green light to local investors to invest money in such a large scale project with Russia, because of their unsolved territorial dispute. Denis Borisov, an oil and gas analyst at the "Kosmos bank" calls the Japanese action an anachronism in bilateral ties.
"The crucial issue for a possible joint action between Russia and Japan on the gas issue is an achievement of a common political consensus, an agreement which is presently being hindered by the Kuril Islands. If that obstacle is removed, more dynamic cooperation between the two nations will be possible. Japan is quite close to Sakhalin, which is rich in crude oil and gas, and which will be cheaper to pump to Japan by pipe than the supply of liquefied gas", said Denis Borisov.
Japan is presently importing liquefied gas from Sakhalin in Russia. The liquefied gas at the plant in Vladivostok has been paid for by South Korea, the U.S, and a number of other countries in South East Asia for the next 25 years. The Administrators in Vladivostok are planning to increase the amount of production, in view of high demand. The laying of a gas pipleline will reduce the overload at enterprises and will make more money for the Russian gas industry. / Voice of Russia
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