Tokyo Gas plans to step up overseas expansion in renewables, LNG

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A general view of the Negishi LNG Terminal, which is jointly operated by Tokyo Gas Co. Ltd. and JERA, in Yokohama, Japan on Oct. 17. — REUTERS

TOKYO — Distributor Tokyo Gas Co. Ltd. will step up overseas expansion, boosting stakes in renewable energy, liquefied natural gas (LNG) development and infrastructure projects, to triple its overseas profit by 2030, its president said.

Last month, Japan’s biggest seller of city gas unveiled a long-term vision that targets a rise of 67% in operating profit by 2030 through overseas expansion.

Tokyo Gas and other utilities are grappling with falling demand at home as Japan ages rapidly with a declining birthrate, while the liberalization of its energy markets has spurred competition among old-guard utilities.

“Our priority is to increase renewables,” Tokyo Gas President Takashi Uchida told Reuters in an interview on Tuesday.

It wants renewables to generate 40% of its overseas profits of about 40 billion yen ($368 million) by 2030.

The company’s renewable assets are only 490,000 kilowatt (kW) generation capacity, mainly solar and onshore wind power assets in Mexico, but it aims to raise global renewable assets tenfold to 5 million kW by 2030.

“We are interested in entering offshore wind projects,” Uchida said.

Another key source of growth will be LNG upstream assets and infrastructure projects in Southeast Asia, he added.

“Our focus is to invest in foreign companies in a way (that) we have control, instead of just buying stakes in upstream assets, as they could become engines for our future growth,” Uchida said.

Tokyo Gas is in final talks with First Gen Corp, a clean energy producer based in the Philippines, to build an LNG terminal there, he said.

“We want to do it as soon as possible, but we still need to discuss on how much risk we can take,” Uchida said, adding that he expected a final investment decision once power purchase agreements have been secured.

Tokyo Gas, which imports about 14 million tonnes of LNG a year, is likely to announce a deal “soon” to raise its stake in an existing LNG upstream project, Uchida said, without identifying it.

Another target is to boost LNG trading to 5 million tonnes by 2030 from practically nil now, to generate 10 billion yen in profit, he said.

“We are not seeking profits from financial trading and all of our trades will be linked with physical supplies,” Uchida said.

The company’s main activities in this area will be swapping cargoes with overseas partners or making seasonal swaps with other utilities, he said. It already has a trading desk with two staff in Singapore, but may hire more traders, Uchida added. — Reuters