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NEW YORK, May 28 (Reuters) - The U.S. Department of Energy has approved exports of liquefied natural gas from the Alaska LNG plant on the Kenai Peninsular to countries that do not have a free trade agreement with the United States, it said on Thursday.
The approval opens up natural gas on Alaska's North Slope to markets across the globe, following a growing list of other projects already making moves to target overseas markets, the first of which is expected to start by the beginning of next year.
The project, estimated to cost $45 to $65 billion, would include an 800-mile pipeline to transport gas from Alaska's northern reaches down to Nikiski on the Kenai Peninsular where it would be liquefied for shipment overseas, likely to markets in Asia.
It is approved to export up to 2.55 billion cubic feet per day of gas for 30 years, or over 3 percent of U.S. gas supply, the department said in a statement.
Alaska LNG, being developed by a consortium including affiliates of ExxonMobil, ConocoPhillips, BP , is expected to take years to build and must still undergo an environmental review and a final investment decision.
It would allow an outlet for Alaskan gas stranded in a remote region without a link to consumer markets. The lower 48 United States, once considered a potential market, has enough gas of its own after a rapid increase in shale gas drilling over the past decade.
Reporting by Edward McAllister; Editing by Richard Chang