Japanese firms in $2bn Liquefied Natural Gas deal

Damaged Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant
Image caption Radiation leaks at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant resulted in various nuclear reactors being shut

Japan's Mitsubishi Corporation and Mitsui & Co have agreed to buy a 14.7% stake in Woodside Petroleum's Browse Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) project in Australia for $2bn (£1.2bn).

They also agreed to buy 1.5m tonnes of gas from the project every year.

Japanese firms have been looking to secure LNG supplies to make up for the shortfall in nuclear energy after last year's quake and tsunami.

Japan has shut 53 of its 54 nuclear reactors after the disasters.

This followed radiation leaks at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant which was damaged by the earthquake and tsunami.

The last operational reactor in Japan is due to be switched off in May this year.

Growing demand

Nuclear power was one of the key sources of energy in Japan before last year's twin disasters.

But as its nuclear power stations have been shut, the country's electricity providers have been relying more heavily on thermal power plants to produce electricity.

These plants require require coal, oil and LNG to operate.

As a result, Japan which is already the world's largest importer of LNG, has seen demand for the gas rise even further.

Data out last month showed that Japan's LNG imports rose 18% in the year ending 31 March, from a year ago levels.

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