The Japan Bank for International Cooperation signed a business partnership agreement with Qatar Petroleum on Thursday, aimed at developing a more favorable environment for Japanese companies hoping to get involved in energy resource development projects in Qatar.
The bank’s officials will meet regularly with those of the state-run oil company to gather information about oil and natural gas development projects, or projects associated with them, such as port and pipeline construction.
The bank will extend loans for those projects on condition that Japanese oil developers are allowed to participate in the projects.
It is the first time the JBIC has signed a partnership agreement with a state-run petroleum company from an oil-producing Middle Eastern nation.
The bank said it will also seek contracts with other countries in the region, including Saudi Arabia.
Japan imported 10.9 percent of its liquefied natural gas from Qatar in 2005.
Qatar currently ranks fourth in the world in LNG production, though some experts forecast that the country will become the No. 1 producer by 2011 with its increasing capacity.
As global demand for natural gas continues to rise, especially from developing countries like China, it is seen as vital that Japan strengthen ties with Qatar.
The government had already agreed with Qatar earlier this month to create a joint working group to discuss measures to bolster the bilateral relationship in the energy sector.