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Toyota Tsusho to Supply World’s First Coal-Methane LNG Project

Toyota Tsusho Corp., the trading house part-owned by Japan’s biggest automaker, said it will sell coal-bed methane to the world’s first liquefied natural gas project to use the fuel.

The company will supply the fuel to BG Group Plc’s LNG plant for 20 years, according to a statement today from Nagoya, Japan-based Toyota Tsusho. The methane will be extracted from a coal bed in Queensland, Australia, where the trader owns 15 percent in a gas project.

BG Group’s Queensland Curtis LNG plant, due online in 2014, will become the world’s first facility to use coal-bed methane for liquefaction, a process that allows gas to be transported. The plant has signed a sales contract with a Japanese power company and a gas company, Toyota Tsusho said, without disclosing the names of the buyers.

A boom in gas extraction from non-traditional sources, such as from shale rock and coal deposits, has helped the U.S. slash imports of the fuel and lower LNG prices to less than a third of that paid by Japan, the world’s biggest LNG importer. Japanese companies are following suit as they add non-traditional assets to their energy holdings.

Toyota Motor owns 21.6 percent and Toyota Industries Corp. 11.1 percent of Toyota Tsusho, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

Mitsubishi Corp., Japan’s biggest trading house, expanded its northwest Australian gas exploration program to non-traditional deposits two weeks ago. Mitsui & Co., the second-biggest trader, said Dec. 6 it aims to expand its shale business outside the U.S. and Poland after completing a transaction to buy a stake in a Texas shale oil and gas project.

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