Governor Dunleavy Concludes Trade Mission to Japan

Jun 8, 2022 | Government, News, Oil & Gas

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Governor Mike Dunleavy concluded a trade mission to Japan over the weekend. The governor met with Japanese companies, utilities, and government ministries about procuring Alaska’s natural gas while also assessing the state’s potential to export various new sources of fuel.

His Second Trip 

Dunleavy’s meeting comes at a time when Japan is pivoting toward an energy transition that Alaska can supply in the coming decades, including blue and green hydrogen, at a time of great geopolitical instability.

“Alaska and Japan have a trade partnership going back over fifty years to the first LNG [liquified natural gas] export from Nikiski to Japan,” Dunleavy says. “The natural gas of the Cook Inlet literally turned the lights on in cities across Japan and powered the economic engine that lifted that nation’s postwar society into a critically powerful western ally.”

The terminal in Nikiski was the first in the country to export LNG in 1969. Shipments continued uninterrupted until 2013, when ConocoPhillips chose not to renew its export license. Since then, the Japan Bank for International Cooperation (JBIC) signed a memorandum of understanding with the State of Alaska to investigate the future purchase of North Slope natural gas, if and when a pipeline is built to Cook Inlet.

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“There appears to be, due to the shift across the world away from older fuel sources, and the simultaneous need for supplies that are not risked due to political instability, a role that Alaska natural gas could play,” Dunleavy says. “Alaska can supply Japan with another fifty [years] of natural gas and clean hydrogen for decades to come.”

The proximity of the LNG terminal to the idled fertilizer factory in Nikiski has raised the possibility of converting North Slope natural gas into ammonia, which is hydrogen bonded to nitrogen from the air. The carbon atoms plucked from the natural gas could be reinjected into old reservoirs underneath Cook Inlet, resulting in a “blue” product. This could enable a transition to “green” hydrogen or ammonia, synthesized by renewable energy with no fossil fuel required.

Dunleavy left for the trade mission after hosting the Alaska Sustainable Energy Conference, which showcased ways the state can produce various sources of fuel for both the state and the world in an environmentally safe manner. The governor conducted the trip along with First Lady Rose Dunleavy and members of the Alaska Gasline Development Corporation. It was his second overseas trip as governor; Dunleavy previously visited Japan in 2019 to mark the 50th anniversary of the first LNG shipment from Nikiski to Tokyo.

For four days, Governor Dunleavy and the Alaska delegation held meetings with representatives of JBIC, the Japan Energy Resource Agency; the Japanese Ministry of Economy, Trade, and Industry; the Japan Oil, Gas and Metals National Corporation; Tokyo Gas; and TOYO Engineering. Meetings were also held with the Mitsubishi Corporation, the Chiyoda Corporation, well as INPEX and O.S.K. Lines.

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