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We Have What the Japanese and Other Nations Need – Time to Help Them and Help Oursevles

  February 2018 / Vol 8 Issue 1

We Have What the Japanese and Other Nations Need – Time to Help Them and Help Ourselves
By: Greg Kozera, Director of Marketing, Shale Crescent USA


“Konnichi- wa” That is Japanese for “Hello”.  As I write this I am flying somewhere over the Pacific Ocean on our way back to the USA from a week in Tokyo, Japan.  We had a good Team. Besides myself representing the Shale Crescent USA, we had Emily Tucker, Manager of International Business Development for AEP and Clay Riley, a loaned Executive to the West Virginia Development Office. We contacted over 20 companies and organizations this week in Tokyo including the US Embassy in Japan. We presented our story on abundant economic energy in the Shale Crescent USA. (That is how eastern Ohio, western Pennsylvania, eastern Kentucky and West Virginia have been branded in order to compete with the US Gulf Coast.)  If the Shale Crescent USA were a country we would be the #3 natural gas producer in the world? Only the rest of the USA and Russia have more natural gas.

Japan is an island country consisting of more than 3,000 islands. The four main islands are Hokkaido, Honshu (where Tokyo is located), Shikoku and Kyushu.  The total area of Japan is about the same as California. The country stretches far enough south that some islands can grow tropical fruit. Tokyo is cooler. Its climate is slightly warmer than ours. This week we had temperatures in the upper 40s for a high and low 30s for lows until last night when it started snowing. We got about an inch which is rare for Tokyo.

This small island nation is home to over 127 million people compared to the USAs 325 million. Their gross domestic product is about 25% of the USA. The population of the Tokyo metropolitan area alone is over 35 million people compared to West Virginia’s 1.8 million. I felt perfectly safe on my morning runs. It is crowded. They use all available space. The air was clean and as well as the sidewalks and back streets. I did not see a single cigarette butt on the ground the entire time we were here. It is surprisingly quiet compared to New York City. They use a lot of hybrid vehicles which are smaller than typical American cars. We saw few traffic jams. Trains are the predominant means of transportation. Tokyo station is huge. Over 6 million people go through it every day. We experienced morning rush hour going to an appointment. Our train car was packed and somehow before the doors shut they literally pushed half a dozen more people into it before closing the doors. We could not move at all.

When we arrived my wife and I took the train from the Narita airport into Tokyo, an hour- long train ride. We had no idea how to even get out of the station from basement level four and find a taxi to get to our hotel. The signs are in Japanese with a little English sprinkled in. That didn’t help me. The Japanese people are incredibly friendly and helpful. A couple actually told us to follow them out of the station and took us to the taxi stand.  The gentleman wrote done our hotel name and address in Japanese to give to the cab driver since he said most can’t read or understand English.  Another change, the furniture is smaller and built closer to the ground than in the USA.

Because of its small size Japan is resource poor. The majority of their energy comes from natural gas. (LNG) They also use a lot of coal and oil. Since the 2011 earth quake and tsunami, nuclear power has been in decline and is being replaced by LNG. When Cove Point Maryland is operational half of its LNG will go to Japan. Japan needs energy and we have energy. We (the Shale Crescent USA) also have raw materials like natural gas liquids (NGLs), propane, butane and ethane that are the building blocks for petrochemicals that Japan needs. They currently buy them from the Middle East or the Gulf Coast. Japanese companies can also choose to use our resources and locate here to build products in the Shale Crescent USA and distribute in the USA or to the world.

We were the keynote presenter at the Japanese Petrochemical Association (JPCA) meeting in Tokyo. This is a relatively small organization but it is a who’s who of the Japanese Petrochemical industry. We had a packed room. I noticed that when I said that almost 1/3 of the USA’s natural gas is coming from the Shale Crescent USA up from just 3% in 2010, everyone was writing. It also got their attention when I said that the Shale Crescent USA produces more natural gas then Texas. They know about Hollywood and New York City. They know about Texas from westerns and oil. They assumed that the USA’s oil and natural gas came primarily from Texas. We were also told not to expect any questions. We were flooded with good, well thought out questions. We talked to people afterward have been attending these meetings for years. They have never seen that much interest and so many questions.

We had a full schedule of private meetings with Japanese petrochemical and manufacturing companies. We also had a series of meetings at the US Embassy. They were very helpful and also had no idea the Shale Crescent USA is where 100% of the growth of US natural gas supply is coming from. All of our work can help improve the USA’s trade balance with Japan.

Business relationships develop slowly in Japan. They are essential for any organization that wants to do business with the Japanese. Decisions are not made quickly. I learned that a major decision like an expansion requires a unanimous vote by the Board of Directors. The purpose of this trip was to make the Japanese petrochemical industry aware of the Shale Crescent USA’s advantages of 1) Abundant economical natural gas and natural gas liquids (NGLs). 2) Abundant freshwater 3) Proximity to 50% of US and Canadian markets and 4) An experienced workforce. The Japanese had no idea that the Shale Crescent USA had not only abundant affordable energy but that it is literally right under the manufacturing and petrochemical plants in the Region.

Before the wheels were up on my flight home we had a request for additional specific information on sites in the Shale Crescent USA from a company that we had met with. We were told that last week this request would have been sent to Gulf Coast only. They did not even know we existed. We have three other specific follow-up requests already for more information. We had a request for information on conferences and expositions in the Shale Crescent USA that may be helpful for them to attend to learn more about our Region. We have been requested to come back to Japan to speak at other conferences.

Our success is success for the entire Shale Crescent USA region. Manufacturing and petrochemical facilities locating here mean more high paying, career oriented jobs for our people. Young people can stay here and raise their families. It means more local demand for our natural gas. Higher local demand can mean higher prices and lower transportation costs for our producers, translating into profits. It means demand for services and supplies. It means tax revenues for states and localities.

This trip is just a beginning. Economic development isn’t a sprint. It is a marathon. But every successful marathon starts with finishing the first mile. We have run our first mile. You can help by supporting this effort. Start by going to Thoughts to ponder.

© 2018 Learned Leadership LLC

Greg Kozera is the Director of Marketing for Shale Crescent USA. He has over 40 years of experience in the energy industry.  Greg is a leadership expert with a Masters in Environmental Engineering and  the author of four books and numerous published articles, including numerous presentations, radio shows and TV.

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