March 1, 2012 / 4:56 PM / 6 years ago

Japan in talks to buy U.S. LNG - report

* Japan in talks with 3 companies

* Japan demand for imported energy on the rise

NEW YORK, March 1 (Reuters) - Japanese companies are in talks to buy liquefied natural gas from proposed U.S. export projects, as demand for imported energy surges following the closure of many earthquake-hit nuclear reactors, according to a Bloomberg News report on Thursday.

Japan is in discussions with Sempra Energy’s Cameron LNG project in Louisiana, Dominion Resources’ Cove Point project in Maryland and Freeport LNG in Texas, all of which are awaiting approval to export LNG, the report said, quoting Hisayoshi Ando, director general of natural resources and fuel at the trade ministry.

Sempra declined to comment and Freeport and Dominion were not immediately available, though all have in the past said they are in discussions with multiple buyers, some of which are in Asia. Exports from Freeport could begin as early as 2015, pending regulatory approval, with Cove Point and Cameron expected after that.

Potentially none of Japan’s nuclear reactors will be up and running this summer when electricity demand peaks, trade minister Yukio Endo told parliament on Thursday.

A shortfall in domestic power generation since last year’s Fukushima earthquake has increased Japan’s demand for LNG, which is natural gas cooled to liquid for shipping.

Meanwhile, record natural gas supply from shale deposits has swamped the U.S. market, prompting a string of export projects looking to profit from gas prices in Asia that are currently about seven times higher than U.S. prices. (Reporting By Edward McAllister; editing by Jim Marshall)

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