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Energy

Japan eyes huge loan to secure cheaper natural gas

The Japanese government has announced that it's considering a multibillion-dollar loan for projects to secure cheaper natural gas. The country has struggled with mounting energy costs after the Fukushima disaster.

The government of Japan announced on Friday that it was planning to offer about 1 trillion yen ($10.8 billion, 8 billion euros) in loans for a variety of projects to secure cheaper liquefied natural gas.

"Reducing fuel costs is a pressing issue for our country's economy," Industry Minister Toshimitsu Motegi told reporters in Tokyo.

The loan guarantees would make it possible for domestic companies in invest heavily in extraction projects in the United States, Russia, Australia and Africa in return for less expensive deliveries once those projects come online.

Fukushima aftermath

Japan and other Asian nations have been paying higher prices for liquefied natural gas imports than the US and European countries, with prices being linked to expensive crude oil under long-term contracts.

"We think there's room for lower import prices of natural gas," Motegi insisted, adding that the loans in question would be provided through the state-run Japan Oil, Gas and Metals National Corporation.

Nuclear-generated electricity used to account for some 30 percent of Japan's overall output before the Fukushima disaster in 2011. But since the idling of 48 of its 50 nuclear reactors, Japan has struggled with increasing costs from importing fuel for thermal power.

hg/mkg   (Reuters, dpa)