TOKYO (AFP) – Japan and Canada will hold talks Tuesday on Canadian shale gas exports to Japan, reports said, as the resource-poor Asian country looks to diversify its sources of fuel.
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who is in Ottawa at the start of a five-day trip to North America, was set to meet Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper later in the day.
The two men will discuss Tokyo's giving assistance in the construction of pipelines and infrastructure to encourage the early export of liquefied natural gas (LNG) to Japan, national broadcaster NHK said.
Those exports were likely to start around 2020, according to Kyodo News, while the Nikkei newspaper said they might begin in late 2018.
Japan, the world's third largest economy, is the world's biggest LNG consumer, but pays a higher price for LNG than that charged in Europe and North America because Asian contracts are often long-term and linked to oil prices.
The trend has remained despite increasing global production of LNG, particularly in light of the US shale gas revolution, Japanese officials have said.
Hefty prices for LNG have hit Japanese utilities, which are now entirely without working atomic reactors because of a public backlash in the aftermath of the 2011 disaster at the Fukushima nuclear plant.
LNG-powered thermal plants used to provide about a third of Japan's electricity before the tsunami-sparked crisis. They now account for about a half.
A gas trade deal with Canada would follow an earlier agreement by the United States to ship shale gas to Japan from around 2017.
Abe and Harper were also expected to discuss the trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) free trade deal, as well as the violence in Syria.