Inpex Corporation is set to conduct exploratory drilling operations, offshore the Shimane and Yamaguchi prefectures in Japan, to identify potential oil and natural gas resources.

The work will be carried out by the company’s subsidiary Inpex San’in Offshore Development between March and July 2022.

The project area is located approximately 150km offshore north of the Yamaguchi prefecture, and approximately 130km offshore northwest of Shimane, at a water depth of nearly 240m.

If successful, the project would help in improving the country’s energy self-sufficiency.

For the exploratory drilling, the Japanese oil company secured equity financing from state-owned energy agency Jogmec.

Inpex has carried out geophysical exploration and evaluation activities in areas offshore the Shimane and Fukuoka prefectures since the early 2010s.

In 2016, the firm then undertook exploratory offshore drilling operations.

The work formed part of the “Heisei 26~28 domestic offshore drilling program” which was commissioned by the Agency of Natural Resources and Energy of Japan’s Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI).

The drilling results, and subsequent geophysical exploration and evaluation activities, have increased the expectations that potential oil and natural gas resources may be present offshore the Shimane and Yamaguchi prefectures.

In a press statement, Inpex said: “Inpex will prioritise safety throughout the execution of the project while calling on the understanding and cooperation of the local communities.

“The company will also continue to work towards the effective and efficient utilisation of domestic energy resources through new exploration and development operations in Japan.”

Last year, Inpex reportedly offloaded two oil and gas assets in Venezuela to the Sucre Energy Group.