Russian PM to discuss fuel-and-energy issues in Japan

Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Kasyanov is to begin his Japanese visit December 15, with the sides discussing all aspects of Russian-Japanese relations, as well as some international issues.

A source inside the Russian delegation told RIA Novosti that bilateral fuel-and-energy cooperation would apparently become a top priority of bilateral talks.

Among other things, Japan's possible involvement in developing Eastern Siberian oil and gas deposits and laying a pipeline to Russia's Sea of Japan coast will apparently be discussed.

Russia attaches priority to prospecting and deposit development investment, rather than specific pipeline routes, RIA Novosti's source added. A cursory assessment of the Eastern Siberian natural resources shows that this region's fuel-and-energy resources equal those of Western Siberia.

According to the source, the decision concerning any specific pipeline route will "come natural" after the sides confirm the natural resources base and mineral deposit investment programs.

The development of Sakhalin hydrocarbon deposits is to be discussed within the framework of fuel-and-energy interaction issues. Japan accounts for 30% of the Sakhalin-1 project, also making up for 45% of the Sakhalin-2 project. At the same time, Japan buys most local oil and gas. In this context, both sides will discuss the construction of a gas pipeline, which would link Sakhalin and Japan's Hokkaido island, as well as liquefied gas and oil deliveries to Japan.

Japan is interested in these resources because it strives to diversify its natural-resource base, which still attaches priority to the Middle East, a Russian delegation source noted.

Moreover, the concerned parties will discuss a possible power transmission line between Sakhalin and Japan. This project, which is being contemplated by the RAO UES (Unified Energy Systems) power grid, stipulates gas-powered generators for exporting electricity to Japan. This project's feasibility study is now being compiled.

Civilian nuclear cooperation will also be examined. Among other things, Moscow and Tokyo will discuss an international thermonuclear reactor project. Apart from Russia and Japan, this project involves China, the United States, Canada, South Korea and the European Union. France and Japan are vying for the right to host this $4-billion project on their respective territories. The receiving country will pay 48% of all expenses; meanwhile a country, which wanted to host this construction project, will pay 12%. All other countries are to pay 10% each. The relevant reactor site decision is to be made later this month.

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