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Message from the President of The Japan Petroleum Institute

Jun Mutoh

Jun Mutoh
(Representative Director, Executive Vice President, JXTG Holdings, Inc.)


I have been involved in the oil industry for 35 years. In that time, the environment surrounding petroleum has changed significantly. In the latter part of the 20th century, the Japanese economy recovered from two oil crises and achieved stable growth, with demand for oil increasing every year. However, more recently, oil demand in Japan has been decreasing year by year. Petroleum used to comprise over 60% of Japan's primary energy, however, this share is currently under 40%, having been partially replaced by natural gas and new energy, and this decline is expected to continue. In the past, it was often said that oil reserves would be depleted within 30 years, however, with the discovery of new oil fields and the development of new resources such as shale gas through the application of new technology, this no longer seems to be the case.

In the meantime, have the importance and our expectations of petroleum changed? "Our objective is to contribute to industrial development and cultural prosperity by progressively spreading the science and technology of petroleum, natural gas and petrochemistry." The above is a statement from the Japan Petroleum Institute (JPI) prospectus from 60 years ago. Reading this statement today, I feel it is just as true now as it was then. Technological innovation has led to the expansion of areas where oil can be extracted, and the utilization of natural gas, shale gas, coal and biomass, as well as technologies for affecting physical changes in raw materials as a starting point for petrochemical technology, has enabled greater diversification, complexity and sophistication in production and supply. Moreover, our industry has always sought efficient and effective production and utilization of petroleum, for use as fuel and as raw materials for petrochemicals. Petroleum has, without doubt, supported the growth of society for the last few decades, and JPI has played an important role in line with the objective of its prospectus.

The role of petroleum for use as fuel and raw materials and the importance of technology will not diminish although demand for petroleum in Japan will continue to decline. Petroleum will continue to occupy an important position in Japan's primary energy despite the continuing downward trend in domestic demand, while global demand for petroleum will continue to increase. We should contribute to developing countries by leveraging the technology we have built up over many years. What is needed, based on the prospectus as a specific point of view, is feasible technological innovation in the supply chain, from production to utilization, to achieve efficient and effective processes to help ensure sustainable protection for the global environment and enhancement of safety and reliability. This is a highly interdisciplinary effort involving the integration of many specialized fields. We must accelerate technological innovation by considering collaboration and cooperation with other institutions. I am concerned about the decreasing degree of interest in petroleum among students and researchers. As continuous human resource development becomes increasingly important, we must return to the starting point and consider how to proceed from here.