Japan's Idemitsu eyes Canadian gas field stakes for LNG imports
TOKYO, March 11 (Reuters) - Idemitsu Kosan Co, Japan's third-largest refiner, is interested in acquiring stakes in Canadian gas fields to secure price-competitive LNG imports to Japan, new President-elect Takashi Tsukioka said on Monday.
Idemitsu announced in January that it would form a partnership with Canada's AltaGas Ltd to export liquefied natural gas and liquefied petroleum gas to Asia, starting as early as 2017.
Japanese and other Asian companies have been investing in shale gas projects in North America to export cheaper LNG to Asia. Asian LNG long-term prices are typically oil-linked, making them pricier than LNG from the United States, where the country's shale gas boom has lowered natural gas prices.
"If there are good stakes in gas fields, we would like to find them in Canada, hoping to bring LNG that is as cheap as possible to Japan," Tsukioka told reporters at the company's announcement of its new mid-term business plan.
Tsukioka, currently executive vice president, will become Idemitsu president after the shareholders' meeting in June, the company said. Current president, Kazuhisa Nakano, will take the post of chairman.
Idemitsu also said on Monday that it planned to invest 90 billion yen ($936 million) in upstream oil development over the next two years to raise its equity output by 72 percent from last year's levels to reach 43,800 barrels per day of oil equivalent (boepd) in the year starting April 2015.
The company, which produced an estimated 25,500 boepd in 2012/13, expects to get most of the increase from its share of the output from the Knarr and H-Nord oilfields in the North Sea next year. The fields would raise Idemitsu's equity output by 16,000 boepd and 2,000 boepd at their peak production levels, respectively, the company said.
Other details from the company's midterm business plan announced on Monday.
* Invest 60 billion yen to raise coal output to 12 million tonnes in 2015/16, up 31 percent or 2.86 million tonnes from its estimates for 2012/13. It plans to raise output from the Boggabri and Ensham mines in Australia.
* Raise global sales of oil products to 30 million kilolitres (189 million barrels) in 2015/16, up from 28 million kl in 2012/13.
* Raise sales of petrochemical products to 33.5 million tonnes in 2015/16 from 27.35 million tonnes in 2012.
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