Japan industry minister asks Arab countries to increase oil production

Japan’s government will continue to ask oil producers in the Middle East, including Saudi Arabia and UAE, to increase their oil output further, Koichi Hagiuda, Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) said on Tuesday.

Hagiuda also said Japanese companies have not been asked to pay in rubles for their Russian natural gas transactions.

“We have been working to reduce our energy intake from Russia by diversifying energy sources through re-energization and nuclear energy, diversifying supplies from resources including the Middle East,” the minister told Arab News Japan at a press conference on April 12.

Japan now relies on the Middle East for about 90 percent of crude oil and 20 percent of LNG. The minister said Japan has been “dependent on the Middle East for a long time.”

“We are aware that Russia issued a presidential decree on the payment of natural gas by rubles on March 31, but we have not found, at the moment, any facts that Japanese companies have been asked by Russian state-run companies to pay in rubles for natural gas transactions,” he said.

An official at METI told Arab News Japan that, based on the existing contract with Russia, “Japan is in the position to reject Russia’s presidential decree.”

The METI official also emphasized the importance of energy security based on the circumstances of each country, including the US. “I have never felt any pressure from the United States to withdraw from the projects Tokyo has with Russia such as Sakhalin 1 and 2,” he added.

Hagiuda also stressed that Japan will not withdraw from the oil and liquefied natural gas development projects in Russia, the Sakhalin-1, Sakhalin-2 and Arctic LNG 2 (ARC 2) projects.

“We will continue to hold our own rights and interests in those projects that represent a stable source of long-term and inexpensive energy sources. They are also important for Japanese people’s livelihoods and business activities, we plan to continue to hold our rights and interests there,” Hagiuda said.

The Ukraine crisis has put Japan’s involvement in the Sakhalin-1 and Sakhalin-2 oil and gas projects in sharp focus since Western oil majors have said they would pull out of Russia after its invasion of Ukraine. Russia calls its actions there a “special military operation.”

Russian President Vladimir Putin has warned Europe it risks having gas supplies cut unless it pays in rubles as he seeks retaliation over Western sanctions for Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine.

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