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Energy

Japan-backed LNG plant in US fully opens with 50% capacity boost

Mitsui and Mitsubishi venture can supply 5% of Japanese imports

U.S. President Donald Trump speaks with managers and executives during a May 2019 visit to the Cameron LNG export facility in Hackberry, Louisiana.   © Reuters

TOKYO -- A joint venture involving Japanese trading houses Mitsui & Co. and Mitsubishi Corp. on Monday opened the third and final unit of an American plant to produce liquefied natural gas, in a milestone for Japan's energy supply.

The completed plant in the state of Louisiana will raise U.S.-based Cameron LNG's annual capacity by about 50% to 12 million tons, of which around 4 million tons is for export to Japan. This equates to roughly 5% of Japan's total LNG imports.

With many of Japan's nuclear power plants offline owing to stricter safety standards, the country has relied more on LNG since the 2011 Fukushima disaster.

Cameron's other investors are French energy major Total, U.S.-based Sempra LNG and Japanese marine shipping group Nippon Yusen, also known as NYK Line. The venture's LNG output, fed by American shale gas, is split among Mitsui, Mitsubishi and Total.

For Japanese plant builder Chiyoda, the completion of the liquefaction facility takes a weight off its earnings. The project began in 2014 and suffered from labor and other cost overruns.

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