SINGAPORE (Reuters) – Japan’s Osaka Gas Co Ltd is considering expanding its Southeast Asia operations, a top executive said, tapping a region where natural gas demand is booming but domestic reserves are dwindling fast.

Osaka Gas, one of the world’s biggest gas utilities and importers of liquefied natural gas (LNG), is increasingly turning abroad as it faces faltering demand at home due to a mature market and shrinking population.

One opportunity is Vietnam, Kazuhisa Yano, Executive Chairman and Chief Asia Representative of Osaka Gas, told the Reuters Commodity Summit interview series.

Vietnam is one of Asia’s fastest-expanding energy markets due to a large population and sharp economic growth, but reserves at its existing oil and gas fields are declining fast.

“We will … study Vietnam’s gas market,” Yano said on Tuesday, talking to Reuters while attending an industry conference in Singapore.

“There are several industry parks in Vietnam, and (there is) demand for gas for such kinds of industrial (purposes).”

Vietnam does not currently import any LNG, but is planning to start in coming years, like other Southeast Asian countries such as Indonesia and the Philippines.

The International Energy Agency (IEA) said this week that Southeast Asia is at the heart of future LNG demand growth, which it expects to increase by a third globally to 500 billion cubic meters (370 million tonnes) by 2023.

While Osaka Gas reviews Vietnam as a potential market, it will also look into expanding its current operations in the region.

The firm already has subsidiaries for operations such as sales and trading in Singapore, Thailand, Indonesia and the Philippines, Yano said.

Like Vietnam, domestic gas reserves are running out in the Philippines, and LNG will soon be needed to meet demand from new power generation projects.

Yano said Osaka Gas was considering entering that market as a supplier.

In Indonesia, which is still an LNG exporter but where dwindling reserves and a lack of investment have also resulted in falling production, Osaka Gas in October announced the launch of a natural gas joint marketing business with Indonesia’s state-owned Pertamina.

Yano said Osaka Gas was also considering investment into LNG receiving terminals and power generation assets in Indonesia.

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