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ARKHANGELSK, March 29. /TASS/. Russia’s Energy Ministry will support the plan for laying a gas pipeline to Japan if businesses show interest, but at this point it is too early to say any concrete decisions are due, Russia’s Energy Minister Aleksandr Novak told the media on the sidelines of the international forum The Arctic - Territory of Dailog.
"If such a project proves economically feasible and businesses decide they are interested, we will support it. But it is too early to speculate about specific decisions for now. In-depth research has to be done first."
Novak said the project had emerged long ago.
"Gazprom is in the process of studying it. We do not distinguish between private or government initiatives, because it is businesses that eventually implement all projects. The state merely provides support for this or that project," he explained.
Earlier, Deputy Energy Minister Anatoly Yanovsky said he doubted the project was worth launching. For his part Gazprom CEO Aleksei Miller said Gazprom was no considering the possibility of delivering pipeline gas from the Far East to Japan.
Many of Japan’s regions, first and foremost, northern Hokkaido have been working on their own plans for developing relations with Russia. Niigata Prefecture, washed by the Sea of Japan, pins great hopes on this. It would like to see a gas pipeline laid from Russia to its coast and an LNG plant built there.
In 2016, a group of Japanese legislators declared the intention to come up with a proposal for considering a plan for laying a gas pipeline from Sakhalin to the Tokyo Bay. The Japanese news agency Kyodo said the legislators were going to address such a proposal to Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Economic, Trade and Industry Minister Hiroshige Seko, who oversees cooperation with Russia.
According to preliminary estimates, the 1,500-kilometer-long pipeline will cost $6.7 billion to lay. According to one of the plans the pipeline will run mostly under the sea. Its surface section will be laid in the northern island Hokkaido and in Tokyo’s neighbor prefecture Ibaraki. A pipeline from Sakhalin would deliver up to 20 billion cubic meters a year, which is equivalent to about 17% of Japan’s current import of liquefied natural gas.