<<What is necessary to generate electricity at a power plant?>>

"I don't know how to answer the question 'What is necessary?'" There are different kinds of power plants..."

Shota muttered and then noticed that something is moving in the corner of his eye. Looking closely, he realized that a man moving back and forth between the power plant and coastline is waving his hand to him. "I guess this man will talk to me next." Shota moved the cursor over the waving man and clicked. Like the last time, the man grew larger and started to talk to Shota.

"I am the flame Bussan-jin. Let's get what is needed for power generation!"

"This man looks much younger than the electricity Bussan-jin. Full of energy," Shota thought. Overwhelmed by enthusiasm in his voice, Shota said to the monitor, "There are different types of power generation, like hydraulic power, thermal power and nuclear power."

The flame Bussan-jin suddenly thrust his open palm out to Shota, showing a graph. "Wait a minute! First, have a look at this."

"Currently, approximately 70% of electricity in Japan is generated by thermal power plants. So let's think about what is needed for thermal power generation." A little hesitantly, Shota said, "Well then, we need coal, petroleum or natural gas, I suppose."

Satisfied with Shota's answer, Bussan-jin nodded and pointed out, "However, we do not know how much coal and petroleum is buried and how long we can keep digging them up for."

Shota widened his eyes, "Does that mean we may not be able to generate power even when we build thermal power plants?"

"It is also Mitsui & Co.'s job to support extraction of energy resources buried underground," Bussan-jin said enthusiastically.

"Power can be generated if we keep burning coal and petroleum at thermal power plants. But I also learned in school that carbon dioxide (CO2) is emitted, causing global warming." Bussan-jin nodded to Shota's words.

"You are studying very well. That's why natural gas is attracting attention now. In comparison to coal and petroleum, natural gas is clean with less carbon dioxide emitted. Not only Japan but also other countries around the world are making strong efforts to procure natural gas." "This Bussan-jin talks like a teacher," Shota thought and said sarcastically, "But natural gas is already used in many countries!"

Bussan-jin grinned and said, "That's why we focus on 'Russia'." Surprised by his answer, Shota asked, "Russia is that Russia located north of Japan?" Bussan-jin looked at Shota as if to say "Everyone knows where Russia is" and showed another graph.

"About 24% of the world's total natural gas reserve, approx. 1,581 TCF (Trillion Cubic Feet) of approx. 6,609 TCF, is buried in Russia." Bussan-jin spoke of a unit that Shota has not heard of. Shota could not imagine how large a TCF is but understood that it is a huge amount from Bussan-jin's emphasizing look.

"Well, then, let's dig up natural gas in Russia. The problem solved." Shota said. Bussan-jin sighed, "The problem is not that easy. In order to dig up natural gas, we need a large-scale facility, and tremendous amount of money and time are required, like trillions of yen and over ten years." Surprised by the large numbers, Shota also sighed, "You are right. It is impossible to do such a big job unless multiple companies from multiple countries get involved."

"This is where Mitsui & Co. comes in. Mitsui & Co. can coordinate all processes and support collaboration." Bussan-jin said proudly. Shota is not quite convinced and said, "But the excavation site is in Russia, isn't it? I think it is too difficult."

"Please read this report, then. It will show you how we Bussan-jin have been involved in natural gas resource development, how we have implemented the project and what we are doing now. The report is about an actual project, so I think it will be easy for you to understand."

Bussan-jin pointed to the button "Bussan-jin's Responsibility <Resource Development>," which started flashing in a corner of the screen.

Shota clicked the button, and a report article appeared just like when he was reading about power plants.

*Job titles and organization names as of March 2012

©2011-2012 Nikkei Business Publications, Inc. Nikkei Business Online Special, Translated by Mitsui & Co., Ltd.

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