Japan to invest $10 billion in global LNG infrastructure projects: minister

FILE PHOTO: Japan's new Economy, Trade and Industry Minister Isshu Sugawara arrives to Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's official residence in Tokyo, Japan September 11, 2019. REUTERS/Issei Kato

TOKYO (Reuters) - Japan and its private sector firms will invest $10 billion on liquefied natural gas (LNG) projects worldwide, the country’s industry minister said on Thursday, in a strategy to boost the global LNG market and reinforce the security of energy supply.

The move, doubling a commitment by Japan two years ago to bolster energy supply chains, comes as the world’s biggest LNG buyer aims to reduce its reliance on energy from the Middle East as growing tensions in the region threaten the stability of global oil supply.

“On top of Japan’s commitment two years ago of investing or financing more than $10 billion in energy supply chains, we are making a fresh commitment of additional and collective $10 billion funding from both public and private sectors,” said Isshu Sugawara, Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI), speaking in Tokyo at the annual LNG Producer-Consumer Conference.

As a part of Japan’s effort to broaden use of the super-chilled fuel, the country also plans to train 500 experts in LNG technology, he said. In its 2017 pledge to bolster energy supply chains Tokyo already promised to train 500 experts in areas such as LNG reception technology and environmental regulations.

“By making these commitments to help develop the global LNG market, Japan will work hard to reinforce global energy security,” he said.

Japan’s previous funding commitment was made by former METI minister Hiroshige Seko at the LNG Producer-Consumer Conference in 2017.

That original $10 billion budget has been largely used up through spending or funding commitments to major projects such as LNG Canada, in which trading house Mitsubishi Corp 8058.T has a stake, and Mozambique LNG project in which trader Mitsui & Co 8031.T owns a stake, according to an official at the industry ministry.

The country has already trained over 400 experts since 2017, the METI official said.

Reporting by Yuka Obayashi and Jessica Jaganathan; Editing by Kenneth Maxwell