Japanese banks lend $2 billion for Pluto field

The Japan Bank for International Cooperation, aiming to secure stable supplies of natural gas, coal, and iron ore for the country, plans to lend some 1 trillion yen over the next 5 years to help finance projects in Australia that involve Japanese companies.

Eric Watkins
Senior Correspondent

LOS ANGELES, June 24 -- The Japan Bank for International Cooperation, aiming to secure stable supplies of natural gas, coal, and iron ore for the country, plans to lend some 1 trillion yen over the next 5 years to help finance projects in Australia that involve Japanese companies.

JBIC initially will extend some $1.6 billion in loans to develop the Pluto gas field off Western Australia, a joint project of Woodside Energy Ltd., Kansai Electric Power Co., and Tokyo Gas Co. Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ and other private banks also will help finance the project, bringing the total Japanese contribution to more than $2 billion.

Tokyo Gas Co. Ltd. and Kansai Electric Power Co. each acquired a 5% stake in Pluto in January from Woodside Energy Ltd. at a combined cost of 16.998 billion yen. In addition to their investments in the project, the two firms also will bear 60 billion yen each for constructing the facilities for gas production.

Last July, when Woodside approved the Pluto project, initial production was forecast at 4.3 million tonnes/year, with the first gas to be produced in late 2010. At the time, Tokyo Gas had already agreed to take 1.5-1.7 million tonnes of LNG and Kansai Electric 1.75-2.00 million tonnes/year.

In April this year, Woodside's parent company, Woodside Petroleum Ltd., awarded a $200 million (Aus.) contract to a partnership of Australian engineering group Clough Ltd., Perth, and Interbeton, the Netherlands, to construct the LNG jetty for the Pluto LNG project on the Burrup Peninsula. The 300 m-long jetty will be completed by yearend 2009 ((OGJ, Apr. 14, 2008, Newsletter)).

Contact Eric Watkins at hippalus@yahoo.com.

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