Global commodity trader Trafigura has secured a US$560mn facility from Japan’s export credit agency and SMBC that will fund the delivery of natural gas to the East Asian country.

The transaction, signed on March 27, comprises a US$390mn loan from the Japan Bank for International Cooperation (JBIC) alongside co-financing from SMBC worth approximately US$170mn.

The deal, the latest in a spate of export credit agency (ECA)-backed transactions for major commodities traders, will finance the import of liquefied natural gas (LNG) into the Japanese market.

Funding will enable a Japanese utility company to import LNG from Trafigura on a “term basis”, JBIC says, although did not disclose the name of the company.

“Amid the growing global demand for LNG and the increasing uncertainty over resource prices, the facilities, which support the Japanese utility company in procuring term LNG through Trafigura, will contribute toward securing a stable supply of LNG, which is an important energy resource for Japan,” it says.

In the past 18 months, traders such as Trafigura, Vitol and Gunvor have tapped billions of dollars in ECA-covered financing from countries keen to secure energy imports and metals supplies, including Italy and Germany.

At the same time, agencies in the Middle East, including the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the UAE, have signed bumper deals involving traders backing their hydrocarbon and metals export sectors.

The dramatic shift in the ECA landscape has been driven by the Ukraine crisis, experts say, as governments hurried to secure energy supplies amid soaring prices and an upheaval to vital commodity flows.