With demand in Japan for liquefied natural gas forecast to jump 40 percent to 77 million tons in 2010, another trading company has signed on to a project to study the feasibility of exploiting gas reserves on Alaska's North Slope for export to East Asia. MARUBENI CORP. is working with ATLANTIC RICHFIELD CO., CSX CORP., FOOTHILLS PIPE LINES LTD. and PHILLIPS PETROLEUM CO. on the $100 million study. If the partners decide to go ahead, they will be looking at a $10 billion or so investment, including the cost of an 800-mile pipeline from the North Slope to a site near Valdez, where a liquefaction facility would be built. Production, which could start between 2005 and 2007, is projected in the range of 15.4 million tons a year. Marubeni would export about 60 percent of that volume to Japan, with the balance going to South Korea and Taiwan. MITSUI & CO., LTD. and MITSUBISHI CORP. are weighing participation in an EXXON CORP.-led Alaskan LNG project envisioned for the same time frame (see Japan-U.S. Business Report No. 337, October 1997, p. 4).
An exchange rate of ¥145=$1.00 was used in this report.