Sakhalin 1 important for Japan oil procurement, trade minister says

To match feature ENERGY SAKHALIN
An aerial view shows the Yastreb (Hawk) land rig at Sakhalin-1's Chaivo field, some 1,000 km (621 miles) north of Yuzhno Sakhalinsk October 10, 2006. REUTERS/Sergei Karpukhin (RUSSIA)

TOKYO, Oct 9 (Reuters) - Japanese Trade Minister Yasutoshi Nishimura said on Sunday that the Sakhalin 1 oil and gas project in Russia is very important for Tokyo to ensure its diversified crude oil procurement.

The comment came after Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a decree on Friday that establishes a new operator for the project in Russia's Far East.

Exxon Mobil Corp (XOM.N) holds a 30% operator stake in Sakhalin-1, with Russian company Rosneft (ROSN.MM), India's ONGC Videsh (ONVI.NS) and Japan's SODECO as partners.

Asked if Japan intends to keep its stake, Nishimura said, "From the standpoint of diversifying Japan's crude oil import, that's a very important project."

Reporting by Nobuhiro Kubo; Editing by Leslie Adler

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