TOKYO, Sept. 21 (UPI) -- Canada is touting its potential to be a major supplier of liquefied natural gas to Asia.
Five LNG projects to be developed on Canada's west coast could go online from 2014-19, Canadian Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver said in a speech this week at a LNG conference in Tokyo, Platts news service reports.
Canadian LNG tankers could reach the Pacific Basin market in as few as 11 days.
"The opportunity is huge, our competitive advantage is clear and we are poised to become a major new safe, reliable and cost-effective LNG supplier to Japan, Korea and other Asia-Pacific nations for years to come," Oliver said.
Canada could have export capacity of 9 billion cubic feet per day of natural gas, equivalent to 66 million tons a year of LNG, based on proposed projects, he said.
Executives from a number of Canadian energy majors -- including Apache Corp., Nexen Inc., Royal Dutch Shell PLC and Spectra Energy, which recently announced plans to build a 4.2-billion cubic feet per day pipeline to carry gas to the coast -- accompanied the energy minister to Japan.
Speaking to The Globe and Mail newspaper from Tokyo, Oliver said the executives remain optimistic particularly in light of Japan and South Korea's need for a secure source of gas, and the higher price of gas in Asia compared to North America.
"There is certainly amongst everyone involved a belief that the economics do in fact work and, that for the Japanese and Koreans, Canada can represent a reliable supply of significant size," the minister said. The two East Asian countries account for almost half the world's imports of LNG.
Oliver met with both Japanese Industry Minister Yukio Edano and his South Korean counterpart during the Tokyo meeting before continuing on to Seoul to promote energy trade and investment.
While Japan appears to be backing down from a strategy announced last week to phase out nuclear power by 2040, it is eager to find new sources of energy to replace nuclear power, for which it relied on for about 30 percent of its electricity generation prior to the Fukushima nuclear plant disaster in March 2011.
The world's largest buyer of LNG, Japan has seen its LNG import double, to $72 billion, since Fukushima.
Speaking at the conference, Edano called for a "paradigm shift" in LNG pricing, warning that without changes to the Asia-Pacific LNG pricing systems -- which are tied to oil -- some Asian countries would be forced to resort to emissions-intensive coal because LNG was too expensive.