Nov 2, 2022
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Japan is angry with Moscow, but does not refuse oil and gas from Russia

Japan is angry with Moscow, but does not refuse oil and gas from Russia

Photo: Oleg Savin/TASS

The full-fledged economic activity of Japan is impossible without the continuation of oil and gas imports from Russia, the head of the Itochu company (participates in the Sakhalin-1 joint project) said in an interview with the Financial Times Masahiro Okafuji.

The Japanese businessman noted that his country differs from the United States and Europe in that in terms of energy it is almost completely dependent on other states, for this reason it is simply impossible to break off cooperation with Russia due to sanctions. “The reality is that we will not survive if we do not continue to import from Russia, even if the volumes are smaller,” he said.

Okafuji also criticized the recent increase in geopolitical pressure on companies, as well as attempts to create blocs of countries to cooperate in the field of supply chains, calling this trend harmful to the global economy.

As reported by Reuters, the Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry of Japan Yasutosa Nishimura stated that the government has asked the energy consortium Sodeco to continue participating in the Sakhalin-1 project in order to maintain the energy security of the state. This project, according to him, is a “valuable source” of fuel outside the Middle East region, so it is extremely important for the economy of the state as a whole.

In early October, Nishimura told NHK on air that the Japanese authorities still consider the Sakhalin-1 oil pipeline project to be very important in terms of ensuring stable oil supplies. “Japan is 90 percent dependent on supplies of Middle Eastern oil to the country, but the Sakhalin-1 project is significant in terms of diversifying import channels and stability of supplies,” the minister said.

This statement of the Japanese minister was made after the instruction of the President of the Russian Federation Vladimir Putin to the government on the creation of a new Russian operator of the Sakhalin-1 project, which will take over the rights and obligations of Exxon Neftegaz Limited, a subsidiary of ExxonMobil. In March, this company announced its intention to withdraw from the project, and in April it announced a force majeure regime, as a result of which oil and gas production was stopped.

Valery Kistanov, Head of the Japan Research Center of the Institute of the Far East of the Russian Academy of Sciences draws attention to the fact that earlier the Sakhalin-1 oil project did not seem to be in the center of Tokyo’s attention.

– Judging by the behavior of the Japanese side, before it was more worried about the Sakhalin-2 project related to liquefied natural gas. This project is more important for Japan in terms of providing energy resources, since it provides about nine percent of natural gas. And the Japanese are simply forced to participate in this project, one might say, gritting their teeth.

SP: Even so?

– They participate, despite the anti-Russian rhetoric, a position that is sharply hostile to us. This country, as the Secretary of the Security Council said in August Nikolai Patrushev“strives with all his might to take a leading position among the world movement of Russophobes.” Although recently Putin proposed to create a new management company for this project, however, with the former participants. And the Japanese, despite their latest political statements, also agreed to participate.

SP: Why? Economic feasibility forced?

“They just have nowhere to go. As you know, energy resources are becoming more expensive – oil and natural gas. Japan is already suffering from energy shortages. Therefore, here she is, as they say, pressed against the wall.

“SP”: – This is all about the gas “Sakhalin-2”, and if we return to “Sakhalin-1”?

Before that, Japan did not express a great desire to continue cooperation within its framework, there were some fluctuations, because Russian supplies do not occupy such a large place in oil imports – only three or four percent. But, as we see, this volume turned out to be significant. Let me remind you that within the framework of the G7, Japan has proclaimed a policy of abandoning Russian energy resources in principle. And I subscribed to all the collective intentions. However, life, as they say, makes its own adjustments and a contradiction arises between rhetoric and the real situation, and the Japanese will buy gas and oil from us.

“SP”: – It is unlikely that other members of the “seven” will condemn her for such inconsistency.

“I think they will be sympathetic to this. After all, the rejection of our energy resources will put the Japanese economy on the brink of disaster. Moreover, the members of the seven do not always follow anti-Russian declarations. However, we are also not consistent in everything – we do not close the way for Japanese companies to oil and gas projects, although we accuse, and rightly so, Tokyo of a Russophobic line. In addition, an agreement on the extraction of marine resources in our territorial waters was recently renewed.

“SP”: – In many countries of the world today there is an increase in energy prices and, as a result, consumer and industrial inflation. How much has this process affected Japan?

– Pretty strong. After all, it is practically devoid of its own energy resources and depends on imports. Prior to the Fukushima accident in 2011, nuclear energy occupied a fairly large place in the country’s energy balance – up to 25 percent. However, after the emergency, the share of nuclear power plants decreased, and now operating reactors account for a small percentage of the total amount of energy generated in the state.

“SP”: – The Japanese do not want to increase the share of peaceful atom again?

Yes, such voices have been getting louder there lately. However, the revival of nuclear energy is a very slow and costly business. And it’s hard to say how it will develop. There are also proposals to more actively use renewable energy sources – wind, solar, tidal waves. etc. However, further experiments, by and large, they do not go.

This is a matter of the distant future. Therefore, the country is in a difficult situation, even more difficult than European states, since the dependence on energy imports is colossal. At the same time, their prices are growing all over the world, and Russian resources are nearby. And that is why Japan does not want to cut the energy branch on which it sits – the Sakhalin-1 and Sakhalin-2 projects – from which it is not going to leave, which it made clear.

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