Japan PM Kishida in Qatar for LNG Talks

REUTERS/Johanna Geron
Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida attends a press conference during a EU-Japan summit, in Brussels, Belgium July 13, 2023.

DOHA (Reuters) – Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida arrived in major gas-producer Qatar on Tuesday for the final leg of a Gulf tour that has focused on securing energy supplies and promoting Japanese high-tech.

Kishida, who has been urged by Japan’s gas lobby to secure new liquefied natural gas (LNG) supplies from Qatar, is expected to hold talks with the emir, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani, as well as minister of state for energy and QatarEnegy’s chief executive Saad Al Kaabi.

Kishida was greeted at the airport by the minister of economy and industry, Sheikh Mohammed Bin Hamad Al-Thani, the state-run Qatar News Agency reported.

Japan, which remains highly dependent on oil and gas imports, did not renew several long term LNG contracts with Qatar when they lapsed in 2021 and 2022, significantly reducing gas imports from one of the world’s top LNG exporters.

Meanwhile, several other Asian buyers have signed long-term LNG supply contracts with Qatar, including a pair of record-length 27-year deals with Chinese importers for gas from Doha’s massive North Field expansion, which will increase the Gulf Arab state’s gas production by more than 60%.

“Coordination with Qatar is extremely important for stabilizing global liquefied natural gas markets,” the Japanese foreign ministry said in a document outlining the objectives of the Qatar talks.

State producer QatarEnergy has said that in 2023 it expects to sign supply contracts for nearly all of the new North Field volumes.

Competition for LNG has ramped up since the beginning of the war in Ukraine last year, with Europe in particular needing vast amounts to help replace gas piped from Russia.

Kishida’s Qatar visit follows a stop in Saudi Arabia on Sunday in which Riyadh said it remained committed to securing oil supplies for Japan and would continue cooperating with Tokyo on clean hydrogen, ammonia and recycled carbon fuels.

In Abu Dhabi on Monday, Kishida and UAE leaders agreed to a new scheme to accelerate energy security, as well as a framework for the UAE to invest Japanese chip and battery technology.