© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: People walk past the logo of the Japanese trading company Mitsui & Co in Tokyo
By Yuka Obayashi and Noriyuki Hirata
TOKYO (Reuters) – Japanese trading house Mitsui & Co Ltd (T 🙂 plans to sell its remaining stake in coal-fired power plants by the end of the decade as it switches to coal-based gas to meet its net zero emissions target for 2050, his managing director told Reuters.
"We are still involved in coal-fired power plants in Indonesia, China, Malaysia and Morocco, but our goal is to get it to zero by 2030," said Tatsuo Yasunaga, Mitsui's CEO, in an interview on Friday.
The comment – Mitsui's first to sell coal-fired power plants – comes as companies around the world move away from coal to reduce harmful carbon emissions and slow climate change.
Mitsui, which makes around two-thirds of its profits from energy and metals, is also shifting away from oil.
"With the COVID-19 crisis, we postponed investment in some upstream oil deals, but our liquid (LNG) projects are on track," he said.
Mitsui's equity investments include 78,000 barrels per day (bpd) and 181,000 bpd gas, measured in oil equivalents.
The crude oil quota will decline in about four years by 2030 due to the planned launch of LNG projects in Mozambique and Arctic Russia, Yasunaga said.
"Renewable energies cannot replace all other energy sources in one fell swoop. Gas goes well with volatile renewables because gas-powered electricity generation can be easily turned on and off," he said, adding that Mitsui is also interested in clean energy, such as electricity as offshore wind farms and hydrogen projects.
Beyond energy and resources, Mitsui relies on healthcare, particularly through the Malaysian hospital operator IHH Healthcare Bhd (KL 🙂 of which it owns 32.9%.
"The pandemic has helped spread virtual diagnostics and other services across Singapore and Malaysia, and supported our plans to use data to deliver new services, including nutrition and disease prevention," he said.
Mitsui is one of five Warren Buffett trading houses Berkshire Hathaway Inc. (N 🙂 bought 5% of the shares in August with the option to increase its holdings to 9.9%.
Mitsui was in email contact with the US investor and has not received any specific inquiries, Yasunaga said.
"We are determined to implement our growth plans as promised and to look for new opportunities that will lead to mutual benefit," he said, citing the alliance with the US dialysis provider as an example DaVita Inc. (N 🙂 whose largest shareholder is Berkshire.
DaVita cultivation in Asia will be mutually beneficial, and Mitsui is keen to pursue similar collaborations, he said.
"We need to show a result that could lead Berkshire to increase its stake to 9.9%," said Yasunaga.
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