By BEN LEFEBVRE
EDF Trading and Exmar plan to export US natural gas using offshore liquefaction equipment parked next to existing LNG import terminals, the companies said late Wednesday.
The project proposed by the London-based trading firm and Belgian shipping company is the latest attempt by companies to profit from the growing supply of North American natural gas. Recent advances in drilling methods have increased the region's natural-gas supply and brought prices well below those in most other regions.
Exmar said it plans to outfit barges with liquefaction units while the companies await for US government permits to export natural gas.
When and if the permits are acquired, the barges could park next to one of the dozen or so existing LNG import terminals and use their existing storage and pipeline infrastructure, said Bart Lavent, managing director of Exmar's LNG infrastructure segment.
Doing so could give them a large head start over many other gas-export projects, which must wait for government approval before building their land-based liquefaction facilities, the companies said. Even Cheniere Energy, which already holds the necessary permits, won't be done building its export terminal in Sabine Pass, La., until 2016.
"This is a quick solution," Mr. Lavent said. "Lots of import terminals already have jetties and storage -- we would park (the barge) alongside, produce LNG on the barge, and export it from the jetty."
Each barge could hold a relatively small 1.5 million tons of natural gas, Mr. Levant said. EDF and Exmar declined to say how much the project would cost.
EDF would sell the gas to customers in Asia, South American and Europe, company spokeswoman Michele Reid said. EDF markets about 7.2 billion cubic feet of gas a day, according to its website.
Spokespeople for the US Department of Energy and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission didn't immediately reply to questions.
Dow Jones Newswires