Perth-headquartered Woodside Energy has secured a US$1.45bn loan package from Japan’s export credit agency and a group of private lenders, backing an LNG development off the Australian coast.

As part of the deal, the Japan Bank for International Cooperation (JBIC) is providing a US$1bn loan that Woodside will use for its Scarborough Energy Project, which is slated to start delivering LNG by 2026.

The facility will ensure a long-term and stable supply of LNG for Japan, says JBIC in a statement.

“Investment in new Australian LNG supply, like Scarborough, can help Japanese customers meet their energy security needs while also supporting regional decarbonisation goals,” says Woodside CEO, Meg O’Neill.

The deal comes amid wider efforts by JBIC to boost Japanese involvement in the US$12bn project.

In March, the Japanese export credit agency (ECA) announced a US$831mn facility for Japan’s biggest power producer Jera, saying the deal would back the firm’s purchase of a 15.1% stake in Scarborough.

The loan would help secure 1.2 million tonnes per year of LNG for Japan, the agency said in a statement.

JBIC’s activities echo efforts by European ECAs to secure vital energy imports for their domestic consumers, with Italy’s Sace and Euler Hermes of Germany signing bumper deals with commodity traders since the eruption of war in Ukraine.

However, such facilities are not new for JBIC, with Asian agencies having signed “mega LNG or gas deals” for decades.

Energy companies have touted gas as a transitional fuel that is less polluting than alternatives such as coal, yet climate campaigners warn LNG is delaying a shift to viable, clean energy alternatives.

In recent weeks, NGO research has shown that between 2022 and 2023, financing for companies that are expanding import and export capacity for methane gas grew from US$116bn to US$121bn, drawing the ire of activists.

JBIC has a longstanding relationship with Woodside in Australia, approving its first project financing in the 1980s for the firm’s North West Shelf, and a US$1bn loan for its Pluto project in 2008.

The Scarborough gas field promises to generate 8 million tonnes per annum and will be connected by a 430km pipeline to the onshore Pluto LNG facility, where a new processing facility is being built.