Sultan visits gas buyers' facilities in Sodegaura
By Sonia K

His Majesty the Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam yesterday visited Brunei LNG buyers' facilities at Sodegaura, Japan.

During the visit, His Majesty was accompanied by His Royal Highness Prince Abdul Azim.

On arrival at Sodegaura, His Majesty and entourage were greeted by Pehin Orang Kaya Seri Utama Dato Seri Setia Awang Haji Yahya bin Begawan Mudim Dato Paduka Haji Bakar, Minister of Energy at the Prime Minister's Office and Chairman of BLNG and BST.

Also in the welcoming party were Mr Susumu Shirakawa, Vice President of Tokyo Electric, Mr Mitsunori Torihara, President of Tokyo Gas, Mr Yorihiko Kojima, President of Mitsubishi Corporation, and Mr Minoru Takeda, President of Shell Gas and Power, Japan, Dr Grahaeme Henderson, Managing Director of BSP, and Mr Fred Smeenk, Managing Director of BLNG.

On hand to deliver a welcoming speech on behalf of the buyers, Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) and Tokyo Gas, was the President of Tokyo Electric.

TEPCO, founded in 1951, is the largest electric utility in Japan and the third largest in the world, employing more than 38,000 people. The company's 190 power plants, with the generating capacity of approximately 63,000 MW, supplies power to 27.7 million customers in Tokyo, Yokohama, and the rest of the Kanto region. Tokyo Gas, which was established in 1885, has been importing LNG from Brunei since 1973.

Also during the visit, His Majesty heard a presentation on the terminal operations and the thermal power station, which was followed by a tour of the facilities.

His Majesty and entourage then boarded the 'B' Class LNG carrier, the Bubuk.

On board the Bubuk, His Majesty was greeted by Awang Mohamad Hj Awang Damit, BLNG General Manager (Marketing & Shipping), Mr Phil Lewthwaite, Brunei Fleet Manager, as well as Bruneian officers.

His Majesty was given a tour of the tanker by the ship's captain, Ayres D' Costa.

The facilities visited included the bridge, crew cabins, a hospital and the gymnasium.

Before leaving, His Majesty consented to sign a commemorative plaque and receive a 'pesambah' presented by Pehin Dato Awang Haji Yahya.

The 7 'B' class tankers, operated by Brunei Shell Tankers, each has the capacity of about 75,000 cubic metres and have been transporting LNG from Brunei Darussalam since 1973 in an operation that has remained on schedule for almost 35 years, delivering more than 5000 cargoes (approximately 193 million tonnes of LNG).

Japan still remains the world's largest LNG importer and Brunei has contributed about 11 per cent of the country's LNG imports. LNG is delivered to all five terminals in Tokyo Bay, with the largest located at Sodegaura. Sodegaura is significant for Brunei LNG operations. About 4.2 million tonnes or 44 per cent of the total LNG received annually at Sodegaura comes from Brunei. The Sodegaura facilities account for 42 per cent of all city gas supplies and 10 per cent of all generation quantities in Japan.

The visit to the terminal, the first by His Majesty, is aimed at strengthening the existing partnership between Brunei LNG as the supplier of LNG and the Japanese customers.

BLNG is currently embarking on its second plant rejuvenation and continues to work and build on its strength as a reliable LNG supplier. When the entire project is completed, BLNG will be in a stronger position for continuing operation beyond the expiry of the existing sales contracts in 2013.

Also accompanying His Majesty during the visit to the terminal were Pehin Dato Awang Lim Jock Seng, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade Two, Brunei Darussalam's Ambassador to Japan, Dato Paduka Haji Adnan bin Hj Buntar, and Japan's Ambassador to Brunei Darussalam, Mr Hashimoto Itsuo. - Borneo Bulletin (19th June 2007)