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Japan's Inpex to use recycled CO2 to make household gas

Company to start operations in August, aims to produce 350,000 tons by 2030

TOKYO -- Japanese oil company Inpex will begin using carbon dioxide emitted by its own facilities to create methane for gas starting in August.

The company will begin production at a gas field in Nagaoka in Niigata Prefecture, and by 2030 it aims to produce enough energy to supply about 50,000 households. Production costs for gas made in this way will be high relative to conventional methods, but the company hopes to reduce them to the conventional level when the gas is commercialized.

It is the first domestic operation of its kind. Companies around the world are paying greater attention to "ESG" factors -- environmental, social and governance -- and Group of 20 energy and environment ministers agreed on Sunday to cooperate on reusing carbon dioxide. Inpex will be among the first to use its own CO2 to make gas and it plans to begin using the method in overseas gas fields in which it holds stakes by 2030.

The company will install equipment to synthesize methane out of carbon dioxide and hydrogen at a gas field in Nagaoka. After operations start in August, it will produce about 50 tons of methane a year, which will be mixed with local gas and supplied through existing pipes. It plans to expand production to 2,500 tons by 2021, and 350,000 tons by 2030.

Production costs are expected to be 10 times higher than those for regular municipal gas at first. The goal is to make those costs approximately equal by 2030. The plan calls for reusing 1 million tons of carbon dioxide. The net carbon dioxide emissions from methane made using the process are considered to be zero.

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