MILAN, March 5 (Reuters) - Norwegian shipping company Golar LNG and Russian oil giant Rosneft have signed a preliminary agreement to develop floating liquefied natural gas (LNG) plants in Latin America and potentially elsewhere, Golar said on Thursday.
The new concept of floating LNG production has yet to be tested and the first such plant, owned by Pacific Rubiales and built by Belgium's Exmar, is expected to come on stream later this year. Its output is earmarked for sale to Russia's Gazprom.
Golar and Rosneft aim to sign two agreements that would give the Russian company capacity from Golar's floating gas liquification plants under development, Golar said.
Rosneft has long sought to break into LNG trading and production amid rising demand for LNG over the long term.
It has plans with ExxonMobil to build an export plant in Russia's Far East to produce 5 million tonnes a year of the frozen gas from 2018, but the project has been hindered by infrastructure bottlenecks and uncertainty over gas reserves.
Golar LNG owns and operates LNG tankers but is also working on converting several vessels into production units, which would be moored above offshore gasfields and liquefy the supply for onward shipment.
Reporting by Oleg Vukmanovic; Editing by David Goodman