Japan’s largest natural gas utility has taken a stake in a US oil and gas company owned by Castleton Commodities International, a trading house, as it seeks to secure supplies from shale formations.

Tokyo Gas acquired a 30 per cent equity interest in Castleton Resources, a unit of Castleton Commodities that owns more than 160,000 net acres in eastern Texas with net gas production of 238m cubic feet equivalent per day, the Japanese company said on Monday.

Castleton Resources aims to develop assets in the Haynesville shale region straddling Texas and Louisiana. Once one of the most prolific areas for shale gas output, the Haynesville’s volumes have declined in the face of low gas prices.

Greater demand could come from exports of liquefied natural gas through ports being built on the nearby Gulf of Mexico coast, including to Japan. Shunjiro Yamashita, chief executive of Tokyo Gas America, called the Gulf coast area “strategically important for Tokyo Gas.”

Last year, Tokyo Gas acquired assets in the Eagle Ford shale of southern Texas, and in 2013 it made an investment in the Barnett shale near Dallas.

Castleton Commodities, based in Connecticut, has expanded “upstream” in energy markets, buying eastern Texas acreage and wells from Anadarko Petroleum last year for more than $1bn and rolling them into Castleton Resources. Terms of the deal with Tokyo Gas were not made public.

Nicholas Haslett, Castleton Commodities’ chief strategy officer, said: “Our partnership with Tokyo Gas will align CCI with one of Japan’s largest LNG market participants and further solidify our company’s commitment to expanding in Asia and connecting Asian and Western markets and investors.”

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