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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Gazprom Seals Energy Pact in Japan

TOKYO -- Japan, the world's third-biggest oil consumer, and Gazprom on Monday signed an agreement on energy cooperation that would include developing oil and gas fields and liquefied natural gas projects in Russia's east.

Japan's Natural Resources and Energy Agency, a division of the trade ministry, and Gazprom will conduct feasibility studies on projects in which Japanese companies may participate, Hirofumi Katase, director of the petroleum and natural gas resource division in the ministry, said in Tokyo on Monday.

"It's a framework agreement. and we will discuss further on what we can do together," Katase said.

Gazprom chief executive Alexei Miller is among more than 100 Russian business leaders visiting Japan this week. Japan, Asia's second-largest consumer of oil, wants access to nearby Russian oil and gas to cut fuel costs and reduce its dependence on Middle East supplies.

The accord signed Monday includes cooperation on gas-to-liquid projects, Katase said. Japanese companies may be invited to ship and market liquefied natural gas from Gazprom's Shtokman gas condensate project, Miller said.

Mitsui and Sumitomo were among four companies Gazprom eliminated in September as candidates to develop the $10 billion Shtokman project in the Barents Sea.

Gazprom wants to start extracting gas at Shtokman in 2010 and plans to build a plant to produce 15 million metric tons of liquefied natural gas per year for shipment to North America. The field may hold as much as 3.2 trillion cubic meters of gas, enough to fuel North America for almost four years.

Japanese companies may also provide pipes for pipelines under the Baltic Sea to Germany and under the Black Sea to Turkey, Miller said.