Japanese duo employs biomethane to bolster efforts toward carbon-neutral future

Two Japanese players, Mitsui & Co. and Tokyo Gas, have taken steps to bring liquefied biomethane derived from biogas produced overseas to Japan.

LNG tanker during unloading; Source: Tokyo Gas

Thanks to an agreement, reached by Shinichi Sasayama, Tokyo Gas’ CEO, and Kenichi Hori, Mitsui’s CEO, related to biomethane produced overseas, approximately 40,000 cubic meters of biomethane (gas equivalent) from U.S. landfills was imported to Tokyo Gas’ Ohgishima LNG terminal on March 19, in what is said to be the first delivery of this product to Japan. 

The biomethane was shipped from the Cameron LNG facility in the United States, where a consortium of four Japanese companies, including Tokyo Gas, has been conducting e-methane feasibility studies since 2022

Following the entrance of Houston-based Sempra Infrastructure into the consortium last year, these Japan-United States ties were reinforced in February 2024, when the Japan Bank for International Cooperation (JBIC) signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Sempra to collaborate on energy transition opportunities, such as liquefied natural gas (LNG) and hydrogen.

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This is in line with the Japanese government’s goal of turning Japan into a carbon-neutral country by 2050 and with Tokyo Gas’ vision of achieving net zero CO2 emissions by combining various strategies in collaboration with compatriot and international companies. 

These strategies encompass renewable energy, e-methane – a synthetic methane made from non-fossil energy resources, such as green hydrogen, biomethane, and hydrogen – and carbon capture, utilization, and storage (CCUS).

Since biomethane is defined as biogas refined until the methane concentration is the same as natural gas, using organic methane from waste that would otherwise be released into the atmosphere as an alternative to fossil fuels is seen as a way to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. When used in existing LNG and city gas infrastructure, it can contribute towards carbon neutrality efforts and reduce additional social costs.

In addition to exploring low-carbon options with the United States, Mitsui recently inked a non-binding MoU with Brazil’s Petrobras regarding potential opportunities for the production of sustainable hydrogen and its derivatives, the use of biomethane, and carbon capture and storage (CCS).

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