Japan Looks to Secure Natural Gas From Mozambique?

Written by Makula Dunbar

Shinzo Abe, Prime Minister of Japan may be edging toward Mozambique’s natural gas supply, according to a Bloomberg report. This week, Abe visited the continent for the first time in eight years. In addition to Oman and Ivory Coast visits, Japan’s Prime Minister will make a stop in Ethiopia next week.

While the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster of 2011 set the nation back, Abe is looking to secure other avenues and regions which will aid in stabilizing Japan’s gas supply. The Wall Street Journal reported that Japan relies on Oman for 30 percent of its natural gas and 90 percent of its oil.

“Since the Fukushima accident, Japan’s imports of natural gas for electricity generation have risen enormously, including from Africa. The development of natural gas is an extremely important matter for security and the national interest”, Institute of Developing Economies head researcher Katsumi Hirano told Bloomberg in a phone interview.

In a possible fair exchange for resources, Japan has plans to front $572 million to support transportation infrastructure projects in Mozambique. According to Bloomberg, the country’s national oil company Empresa Nacional de Hidrocarbonetos revealed that Mozambique’s offshore field gas capacity is enough to meet global demand — for more than two years.

“Since 2000 onward, China’s engagement with Africa has re-energized everyone else looking at the continent. Undoubtedly the Japanese re-energized engagement should be seen in the context of countering the Chinese to an extent,” Martyn Davies, CEO of South Africa’s Frontier Advisory said in the report.

Business Standard reported that Ethiopia will also be a recipient of cash pledges from Japan — another effort to counter China’s overbearing presence on the continent.

Japan is currently the largest liquefied natural gas importer. By 2018, Mozambique will have constructed four liquefied natural gas units capable of collectively producing 20 million metric tons of gas per year. Then, Mozambique will be the top liquefied natural gas exporter, according to Bloomberg.