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Japan Successfully Extracts Natural Gas from Underwater Deposits of Flammable Ice

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methane_hydrateOn March 12, 2013, Japan became the first country to successfully extract natural gas from underwater deposits of methane hydrate. Methane hydrate is a frozen gas that is referred to as flammable ice or fire ice. State-run Japan Oil, Gas and Metal National Corporation (JOGMEC) have been spearheading the initiative.

Japan is a major importer of energy. In fact, the country is the number one importer of liquefied natural gas (LNG). With renewable sources of energy like wind and solar still in early stages and the catastrophic nuclear incident, this breakthrough could be a net positive for Japan’s energy needs. The big question presents the issue of commercial viability and scalability. If the technology is scalable like fracking was for the Americas, it could greatly influence energy extraction. This possible technological impact would increase flows to sovereign wealth funds and possibly create new energy funds globally. If Japan were to rely less on LNG imports, it would have a negative effect on current LNG exporters.

Cost-effective, innovative extraction methodologies lead to energy bonanzas.

Before people get their hopes up, there are some pressing issues. It will take time as Japan plans to have a commercially viable model in place by 2019. In addition, methane hydrates are located in colder environments or places that are challenging to drill and extract.

JOGMEC believes at a minimum there are 1.1 trillion cubic meters of methane hydrate in the Eastern Nankai Trough where it is currently drilling. This amount of methane hydrate is enough to provide Japan with enough natural gas for a little more than a decade. In total, off Japan’s coast there is an estimated 7 trillion cubic meters of methane hydrate.

Mergermarket Gets Ready to be Sold

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Private equity firm BC Partners hired Goldman Sachs Group Inc. and JPMorgan Chase & Co. to advise on the sales of Acuris. Acuris is a collection of financial news and data sites, which includes Mergermarket, Dealreporter, and Debtwire. In 2017, BC Partners sold around a 30% stake in GIC Private Limited.

Before the rebranding to Acuris, Mergermarket was part of The Financial Times Group until 2013 when it was sold off to BC Partners.

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Why Japan Post Sees Promise in Aflac

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Aflac Inc. is an American insurance company founded in 1955. The company is the biggest provider of supplemental insurance in the United States. Aflac also has major operations in Japan.

In December 2018, Japan Post Holdings (JPHLF) signaled it was spending US$ 2.64 billion for a 7-8 % stake in Aflac. The goal is that, in four years time, Aflac will become an affiliate of Japan Post. Japan Post hopes to accomplish this by becoming the largest voting shareholder of the company. The world’s 13th largest company, with 400,000 employees, Japan Post needs to expand to chase further growth, mainly because Japan Post expects the postal business to decline. Diversification is seen as the optimal route to long term stability for the holding company. Japan’s economy is worrying. Japan’s aging population means that many insurance companies are facing a shrinking customer base, Japan Post settled on a plan to expand overseas.

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RDIF and Development Agency of Serbia Agree to Explore Joint Investments

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The Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF) and the Development Agency of Serbia, also known as Razvojna agencija Srbije, reached an agreement to work together to identify attractive investment projects to strengthen bilateral economic ties and increase investment flows between Russia and Serbia. Russian capital and businesses are keen on investing in Serbia.

In addition, the two countries signed an agreement to cooperate on civil nuclear energy, according to state-owned Russian reactor builder Rosatom (Rosatom State Nuclear Energy Corporation). Rosatom continues to expand it business of nuclear cooperation deals in a wide number of countries.

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