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The Japanese government has decided to retain its stake in the new Russian firm that manages the Sakhalin-1 oil and gas project in the Russian Far East, reported Reuters.

Members of the Japanese consortium Sakhalin Oil and Gas Development Co (SODECO) have been urged to continue with their combined stakes of 30% in the project to ensure the country’s energy security.

The Japanese government holds a 50% stake in SODECO. The remaining stake is owned by Itochu, Marubeni, Japan Petroleum Exploration, and Inpex.

Japanese Industry minister Yasutoshi Nishimura was quoted by the news agency as saying: “The Sakhalin-1 is extremely important for Japan’s energy security as it is a valuable source outside of the Middle East.”

Last month, Russian President Vladimir Putin established a new operator for the formerly Exxon Mobil-led Sakhalin-1 project, authorising the government to decide the continuity of foreign shareholders in the project.

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Other Sakhalin-1 project partners included Rosneft affiliates RN-Astra (8.5%), Sakhalinmorneftegaz-Shelf (11.5%), and India’s Oil and Natural Gas Corp (ONGC) overseas arm ONGC Videsh (20%).

Exxon formerly owned a 30% stake in the Sakhalin-1 project and has now fully exited Russia.

ONGC is planning to take a stake in the new Russian entity, Reuters reported, citing sources familiar with the development.The new Russian company, which will be managed by Rosneft subsidiary Sakhalinmorneftegaz-Shelf, will own investors’ rights in the Sakhalin-1 project.