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Canada agrees to export shale gas to Japan

Canada joins US as second country to provide the natural resource to the land of the rising sun
Japanese PM Shinzo Abe has forged a deal for Canadian shale gas to be exported to Japan

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Stephen Harper, the Canadian prime minister and Shinzo Abe, his Japanese counterpart, agreed Tuesday that Canada will start exporting shale gas to Japan. Canada would be the only country other than the US sending shale gas to the Japanese.

Abe, speaking to reporters in Ottawa at a joint press conference with Harper, said Canada is a stable source of energy and can provide gas at competitive prices.

“The importation volume of natural gas is increasing and the prices remain high,” Abe said. “Canada, endowed with rich energy resources including natural gas, has a very high potential in the context of energy cooperation.”

To prepare for shale gas to be exported to Japan, both Abe and Harper confirmed that talks will begin soon at the ministerial level.

Fukushima fallout
Shale gas, a relatively cheap source of energy, is expected to help reduce rising costs at Japanese utility companies, which relied on nuclear power for about a quarter of their energy needs before the Fukushima disaster.

Japan is completely without atomic power again after the nation’s last operating reactor shut on 15 September for regular maintenance. To compensate, the nation’s utilities have increased purchases of traditional fossil fuels.

A perfect fit
Japan is the world’s largest customer for liquefied natural gas (LNG) and imports almost all its energy. Canada is the world’s fifth largest producer of natural gas.

“While there are many areas for increased growth in our trade and investment relationship, the one that came up most frequently is obviously energy,” Harper said. “We have special assets to offer there and obviously Japan is the largest single importer of energy products.”

The Japanese prime minister also offered assistance in developing necessary infrastructure in Canada to ship shale gas and asked Harper to enable Japanese companies to participate in shale gas-related projects.