TOKYO Oct 15 Russia has proposed to Tokyo
building a natural gas pipeline connecting fields in its far
east with northern Japan, the Nikkei newspaper reported on
The construction of a gas pipeline between the two
countries, which has been mooted for decades, would face many
obstacles, including a dispute over islands taken by Russian
forces at the end of World War II that has prevented Moscow and
Tokyo from signing a formal peace treaty.
The plan to build a pipeline between Sakhalin and the
northern Japanese island of Hokkaido was presented to Japan last
month by Russia, the Nikkei reported, citing diplomatic sources
it did not identify.
An official in Japan's Ministry of Economy, Trade and
Industry involved in gas and oil denied Tokyo had received an
offer from Russia, when contacted by Reuters. He declined to be
identified due to the sensitivity of the matter.
Moscow, which is heavily dependent on taxes from oil and gas
sales to western Europe, has been trying to shift focus to Asian
countries including Japan and China as potential customers for
its vast reserves in eastern Siberia.
It has been offering lower priced gas to Japan, which buys
about a third of world shipments of liquefied natural gas (LNG),
a supercooled form of the fuel, the Nikkei said.
Japan's imports of LNG have surged in the wake of the
Fukushima nuclear disaster of March 2011, which has led to the
shutdown of all the country's reactors. Russia supplied almost
10 percent of Japan's LNG imports last year.
Moscow and Tokyo have been discussing a number of projects
involving LNG supplies to Japan from Sakhalin and Vladivostok,
but talks have slowed as the Japanese government fell in line
with sanctions on Russia over the Ukraine crisis.
The Nikkei report comes a day after Russia's
state-controlled gas company Gazprom said it may drop
its Vladivostok LNG project.
(Reporting by Aaron Sheldrick and Kentaro Hamada; Editing by