JX Nippon Oil & Gas Exploration Corp and state-operated Qatar Petroleum signed a 100-million-dollar exploration and production sharing agreement for a natural gas field off the emirate, news reports said Monday.
JX Nippon, a unit of JX Holdings Inc, reached the 30-year agreement Sunday with Qatar for production sharing at Block A, a 6,173-square-kilometre area near North Field, the world's biggest gas field, dpa quoted Jiji Press as reporting.
The field is estimated to have significantly large reserves, an unnamed official of Japan's Agency for Natural Resources and Energy was quoted by Jiji as saying. Production is expected to start around 2020 after five years of exploration and test drilling.
Industry Minister Banri Kaieda said in a statement that the latest deal would help Japan bolster its bilateral relations with Qatar and secure energy needed for its recovery from the March earthquake disaster, Jiji reported.
Demand for liquefied natural gas has risen in Japan following the March 11 earthquake and tsunami, which forced providers to take a number of nuclear power stations offline. The disaster crippled the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant and it has leaked radiation into the air and sea ever since.
Amid growing public concern about another nuclear accident and demands to review the country's nuclear energy policy, Prime Minister Naoto Kan urged utility provider Chubu Electric Power Co Friday to shut down all reactors at its Hamaoka nuclear station located near a geological fault line.