Japan’s Inpex is preparing to drill a rare exploration well offshore Japan, with the aim of producing natural gas in 2032 if commercial volumes are discovered.

The exploration drilling, targeting gas off Japan’s west coast, will be carried out from March to July.

The drill site will be located 130 kilometres north-west of Hamada city in Shimane prefecture and some 150 kilometres north of Hagi in Yamaguchi prefecture. Water depth is about 240 metres.

If the exploration drilling delivers as hoped, it could lead to Japan’s first domestic field start-up in around two decades and the first offshore project in some 30 years.