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Japan, Canada Plan LNG Talks

Japan and Canada will engage in talks over the potential for future exports of liquefied natural gas (LNG) from Canada to Japan, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe told reporters in Ottawa on Tuesday, Bloomberg reported.

The countries will hold ministerial-level consultations, the news service reported Abe saying through an interpreter. Neither prime minister's office had put out a statement on the potential for energy talks as of Tuesday afternoon. Both prime ministers were bound for New York and the opening of the United Nations General Assembly.

Gas-rich Western Canada and Energy-hungry Japan have long courted each other. As Japan's reliance on nuclear power has fallen in the aftermath of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant disaster, the country has been on the hunt for natural gas to fuel its power sector.

Canada and Japan are two of the 12 countries participating in Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) negotiations and are working toward concluding an agreement that will enhance trade and investment among TPP partners (see Daily GPIApril 16March 19) The United States also is participating.

Since 2006, Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper has visited Japan three times. The last visit to Canada by a Japanese prime minister was in 2010, when Naoto Kan attended the G-8 Summit in Muskoka and the G-20 Summit in Toronto.

Earlier this month, ministers from Japan and India meeting in Tokyo agreed for LNG-consuming countries to work together to secure what they believe would be more equitable pricing for supplies (see Shale DailySept. 10). Asian LNG buyers have increasingly voiced their displeasure at having to pay oil-linked prices for LNG when natural gas prices are so much lower in North America.

Earlier this year, Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), the ranking member of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, met with Abe and other top Japanese officials to discuss opportunities to export Alaska natural gas to Japan. Murkowski is one of the biggest proponents on Capitol Hill of exporting LNG (see Daily GPIFeb. 27). Earlier this month, the Japan Bank for International Cooperation agreed to discuss the potential for financing Alaska's natural gas pipeline and LNG export plans (see Daily GPISept. 13). However, Alaska LNG export backers are aware that Japan has options elsewhere (see Daily GPIJune 3). 

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