Sakhalin gas pipeline will help the power-market reforms in Japan

Apr 24, 1998 02:00 AM

Plans to construct a natural gas pipeline between Russia's Sakhalin Island and Japan's mainland could take giant strides forward amid continuing pressure on Japanese power generators to shift from coal to gas.
Following Japan's pledge at the Kyoto Climate Change meeting to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 6 % below 1990 levels in the period 2008-2012, the Ministry of International Trade and Industry (MITI) is urging domestic utilities to swap coal, considered a 'dirty fuel', for natural gas as a feedstock.
In addition, industry observers speculate that the cordial spirit of the past 2 'no necktie' summit meetings between Russian President Boris Yeltsin and Japanese Prime Minister Ryutaro Hashimoto could find its physical manifestation in the form of a gas pipeline linking the 2 countries.
'The Sakhalin-Japan gas pipeline may play a diplomatically important role in the relationship between the 2 countries,' notes Fumio Mizuno, manager of general affairs at Japan Petroleum Exploration Co.(JAPEX). The two countries still have to resolve a territorial dispute over four tiny islands in the southern Kuril chain.
Japex is one of several Japanese partners in the Sakhalin-1 oil and gas production project.
As well, a Japanese natural gas grid would offer independent power producers open access to a clean fuel and help to end the regional monopoly in Japan's power sector, a MITI official suggests.

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