Japanese firms increase oil, gas exploration spending

Leading Japanese oil and gas exploration companies, responding to an uptick in international oil prices, plan to increase their spending to develop oil and gas fields, according to media reports.

Eric Watkins
OGJ Oil Diplomacy Editor

LOS ANGELES, Apr. 16 -- Leading Japanese oil and gas exploration companies, responding to an uptick in international oil prices, plan to increase their spending to develop oil and gas fields, according to media reports.

Japan’s Nikkei business daily reported that the moves by these firms are partly driven by government support, including loans by the Japan Bank for International Cooperation.

In a draft of its energy policy released in March, the Japanese government set a goal of acquiring half of the nation's fossil fuel imports through Japanese interests in production, up from about 25%.

In connection with that policy, Mitsui Oil Exploration Co., the third-ranked firm in Japan in terms of oil and gas production, has earmarked ¥300 billion for investment over 3 years starting this fiscal year—an increase of 130% over the previous 3-year period.

The Nikkei said half of Mitsui’s outlays will go to boosting production, while the other half will be used for exploration and to acquire equity stakes in exploration projects.

Mitsui plans to focus on such regions as northern Africa, the Middle East, and North America. The company will also consider taking over other oil development firms.

Mitsui Oil's current oil and gas production stands at 100,000 boe/d, with most of it coming out of Thailand. The paper said that Mitsui aims to increase production by 50% in 3-5 years.

Meanwhile, Inpex Corp., Japan’s leading oil exploration firm, intends to spend an all-time high ¥990 billion on development and exploration in fiscal 2010-11, a 60% rise over the estimated figure for fiscal 2008-09.

The company plans to expand investment related to a large Australian gas field project, laying out ¥130 billion this fiscal year and ¥300 billion in fiscal 2011 for the project, which is slated to begin production in 2015.

The paper said Idemitsu Kosan Co. plans to spend as much as ¥200 billion on oil and coal development over the three years through fiscal 2011, up roughly 150% from the previous 3 years.

Idemisu Kosan aims to lift oil output by about 30% to 34,000 b/d, the paper said.

Contact Eric Watkins at hippalus@yahoo.com.

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