Japan’s urgent need for a reliable source of energy following the closure of its nuclear power plants has coincided with the discovery of enormous shale gas reserves in North America. But competition from other countries for these energy supplies and pressure from US environmental lobbies, businessmen and politicians make for a complex cocktail of negotiations.

JAPAN is the world’s largest consumer of liquefied natural gas (LNG). It imported some 83 million tons of LNG in 2011 at a cost of US$66 billion, a 20 per cent increase over the previous year.

Its thirst for energy follows the decision to shut down its nuclear power stations following the triple disaster of earthqu...

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Dr. Stefan Lippert
Japan pays a steep price for the imported gas: US$17-18 for a million British Thermal Units (BTU). That is roughly eight times the US price
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