Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida arrived in major gas-producer Qatar on Tuesday for the final leg of a Gulf tour that has focused on securing energy supplies and promoting Japanese high-tech.
Kishida, who has been urged by Japan's gas lobby to secure new liquefied natural gas (LNG) supplies from Qatar, met with the emir, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani, in Doha where they discussed economic and energy cooperation, state news agency QNA reported.
Minister of state for energy and QatarEnegy's chief executive and other officials attended the meeting, QNA added.
Japan, which remains highly dependent on oil and gas imports, did not renew several long term LNG contracts with Qatar when they lapsed in 2021 and 2022, significantly reducing gas imports from one of the world's top LNG exporters.
Meanwhile, several other Asian buyers have signed long-term LNG supply contracts with Qatar, including a pair of record-length 27-year deals with Chinese importers for gas from Doha's massive North Field expansion, which will increase the Gulf Arab state's gas production by more than 60%.
"Coordination with Qatar is extremely important for stabilizing global liquefied natural gas markets," the Japanese foreign ministry said in a document outlining the objectives of the Qatar talks.
State producer QatarEnergy has said it expects to sign supply contracts for nearly all of the new North Field volumes in 2023.
Competition for LNG has ramped up since the beginning of the war in Ukraine last year, with Europe in particular needing vast amounts to help replace gas piped from Russia.
Kishida's Qatar visit follows a stop in Saudi Arabia on Sunday in which Riyadh said it remained committed to securing oil supplies for Japan and would continue cooperating with Tokyo on clean hydrogen, ammonia and recycled carbon fuels.
In Abu Dhabi on Monday, Kishida and UAE leaders agreed to a new scheme to accelerate energy security, as well as a framework for the UAE to invest Japanese chip and battery technology.
Reporting by Andrew Mills and Rachna Uppal; Writing by Andrew Mills; Editing by Conor Humphries, Robert Birsel and Mike Harrison