Facing a growing demand for energy, the Asia-Pacific countries are trying to diversify their energy resources, and here Siberia and the Russian Far East, with their huge deposits of natural gas, oil and surplus electricity, could be put to very good use in a variety of joint energy projects.
In late March, Russia’s Rosseti Company, the China State Grid Corporation, the Korea Electric Power Corporation and Japan’s Softbank Group agreed to establish and interconnected energy system to encompass the entire region of Northeastern Asia and eventually to build a number of separate energy bridges, including one between Russia’s Sakhalin Island and Japan.
Speaking on the sidelines of a GAZTECH conference earlier this year, the International Energy Agency’s former director Tanaka Nobuo said that after the disaster at Japan’s Fukushima nuclear power plant in March 2011, Japan shut down almost all its nuclear power stations, thus making the country dependent on energy supplies from abroad.
“Without nuclear energy we have become too dependent on fuel supplies, above all from the Middle East, but the current political instability there is a big risk, that’s why we are diversifying both our energy resources, such as oil, gas and coal, and the countries where we are buying fuel. Staking on natural gas imports, we could shift our focus from the Middle East to suppliers in North America, Australia, the ASEAN countries and Russia, which could become a major supplier,” he said.
That said, Tanaka Nobuo still believes that the project of a joint energy grid in Asia is both economically feasible and would help the countries to resolve existing geological problems through a dialogue.
Meanwhile, a 360 megawatt hydro now under construction in Sakhalin could easily accommodate the island’s energy needs and could also sell surplus electricity abroad.
“The sides' consent as well as unification of investments and qualifications are not the only things necessary for implementation of the projects, which also demands a fundamental study of technical and economic indicators, risks assessment, regulatory and pricing issues and many others," Inyutsyn added.
Japan’s new course on promoting closer ties with Russia is opening the way to more Japanese investments into new and existing projects in the Russian Far East which, for its part, could offer Japanese companies highly attractive terms of investment into the advanced development territories and the Svobodny seaport in Vladivostok.
Japanese businessmen have nine territories in the Russian Far East to choose from and where to invest their money and enjoy tax breaks and administrative preferences.
By the way, Chinese investors have already chosen such a territory in Amur region to invest.
Energy, transport, agriculture, timber processing, medicine – these are the priority areas of Russian-Japanese cooperation, and the energy bridge to be built as part of the Asian energy super ring could be a key area of mutually beneficial cooperation between the two countries.
The Asian energy super ring project prescribes the unification of energy systems of Russia, Japan, South Korea, China and Mongolia. This ring is expected to consist of separate energy bridges, one of which can connect Russia's Sakhalin with Japan.