Inpex approves $34 billion Ichthys LNG project in Australia

Fri Jan 13, 2012 3:08am EST
 
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By Osamu Tsukimori and Rebekah Kebede

TOKYO/PERTH (Reuters) - Japan's Inpex Corp (1605.T: Quote) gave the go-ahead on Friday for a $34 billion liquefied natural gas export project that will make Australia the world's top exporter of the fuel by 2017, overtaking Qatar.

Inpex said the cost of the giant Ichthys project was higher than estimated by its partner, French energy company Total (TOTF.PA: Quote), and also 70 percent above initial figures calculated in 2008 because it now has more reliable information from the front-end engineering design (FEED).

"I think we have a highly accurate cost estimate," Inpex President Toshiaki Kitamura told reporters in Tokyo. "The $34 billion capex ensures sufficient economic efficiency."

The green light for the 8.4 million tonne per annum (mtpa) project comes amid an LNG rush in Australia that will see its export capacity almost quadruple by 2017 from 20.1 mtpa now to nearly 80 mtpa.

Inpex delayed its final investment decision on the scheme, which will pipe gas from the Timor Sea to the coastal city of Darwin in Australia's Northern Territory, from late last year due to time constraints.

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Australia's LNG exports link.reuters.com/dab29p

Australasia LNG projects map: link.reuters.com/nub33s   Continued...