May 10, 2013, 2:06 PM
By Claudia Assis
Exxon Mobil Corp. and Qatar Petroleum International have signed an agreement to sell liquefied natural gas from a planned export plant in Sabine Pass, Texas.
The subsidiary, Golden Pass Products LLC, has Department of Energy authorization to export to countries with free trade agreements with the U.S. but not to countries without a FTA. Golden Pass would invest about $10 million to build the plant, but that investment is contingent to permits and whether it would be allowed to export to non-FTA countries.
More than a dozen planned plants planned LNG export terminals are also waiting for that green light. The U.S. has FTAs with 20 countries, none of which are particularly large LNG buyers. Non-FTA countries include several Asian and European nations that are keen on LNG, such as Japan and Spain.
Only one, Cheniere Energy Inc.’s Sabine Pass plant, is approved to export to both FTA and non-FTA countries. Cheniere’s plant is expected to operate by the end of 2015. The company filed a request in early March to expand its planned facility.
Golden Pass’ planned LNG export plant would be added to an existing import terminal, as it is also common in the industry — the glut in natural gas in the U.S. has made these import facilities all but idle. Golden Pass expects to ship up to 15.6 million metric tons of natural gas per year from the facility.
“This agreement sets out a highly competitive commercial blueprint for Golden Pass Products, with a commitment that builds on the unique combined strengths of QPI and ExxonMobil throughout the global downstream LNG value chain,” Bill Collins, president of Golden Pass Products, said in a statement.