Australian billionaire Forrest buys out Japanese partners in LNG import project
By Sonali Paul
MELBOURNE, Oct 20 (Reuters) - Australian billionaire Andrew Forrest's Squadron Energy said on Tuesday it bought 50% of a liquefied natural gas (LNG) import terminal in New South Wales (NSW) from Japan's JERA and Marubeni Corp 8002.T, aiming to help speed up the project.
Squadron said in a statement it acquired 30.1% of Australian Industrial Energy (AIE) from trading house Marubeni and 19.9% from JERA, the world's biggest LNG buyer, for an undisclosed price. The deal sees Squadron take full control of the A$250 million ($176 million) Port Kembla Gas Terminal project that AIE is developing.
"Squadron Energy is committed to the expedited development of the gas import terminal with the objective of having the capacity to supply 70% of NSW's gas needs by late 2022," Squadron said.
Squadron is owned by Tattarang, the private investment company of Forrest, the former chief executive and current non-executive chairman of Fortescue Metals Group.
Marubeni and JERA, owned by Tokyo Electric Power 9501.T and Chubu Electric Power 9502.T, had no immediate comment.
In the Squadron statement, chairman Michael Masterman said JERA and Marubeni have indicated they would be open to working with AIE in the future, including lining up LNG supplies and building an associated gas-fired power station.
AIE has been pushing to reach a final investment decision on the Port Kembla project this year, in order to start importing LNG by 2022, with construction expected to take 14 to 16 months.
The project is one of five aiming to import LNG into southeast Australia to fill a looming shortage expected from 2024 as gas supply from the Bass Strait fields off the coast of Victoria rapidly declines.
($1 = 1.4178 Australian dollars)
(Reporting by Sonali Paul; Editing by Himani Sarkar and Kenneth Maxwell)
((Sonali.Paul@thomsonreuters.com; +61 407 119 523;))
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