Japan gas lobby looks to PM's Middle East trip for stable supply

(Reuters) - Japan Gas Association (JGA) Chairman Takahiro Honjo said on Monday he hoped that Prime Minister Fumio Kishida's planned Middle East trip this month will help Japan ensure stable supplies of liquefied natural gas (LNG) and other fuels.

Resource-poor Japan is trying to beef up its energy security as it remains highly dependent on oil and LNG imports and Kishida is due to visit Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Qatar after attending a NATO summit in Lithuania.

"The relationship between countries will be very important for the stable procurement of fuels," Honjo said.

"We hope that Prime Minister will work hard on (diplomatic) exchanges between countries to ensure stable procurement of fuels," he addded at a news conference.

Asked whether Japanese LNG buyers should consider long-term contracts with Qatar, Honjo, who is also chairman of Osaka Gas Co, said it would depend on individual strategies.

Japanese buyers usually negotiate the terms of contracts with various countries, looking at various conditions, he said.

"Qatar is probably one of the promising supplier candidates... but it is up to each company to decide the procurement policy by looking into conditions such as time frame and prices," he said.

Qatar is the world's top LNG exporter and competition for LNG has ramped up since the start of the war last year in Ukraine, with Europe in particular needing vast amounts to help replace piped gas from Russia.

Asian companies, with an appetite for long-term sales and purchase agreements, have outpaced Europe in locking in supply from Qatar's two-phase expansion plan that will raise its liquefaction capacity to 126 million metric tons a year by 2027 from 77 million.

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