Australia's Viva Energy defers decision on LNG import terminal to 2023

Credit: REUTERS/Sonali Paul

By Sonali Paul

MELBOURNE, Aug 25 (Reuters) - Viva Energy VEA.AXwill delay a final investment decision on a gas import terminal to 2023, as a government ruling on the project could be put off until after a Victoria state election in November, Chief Executive Scott Wyatt said on Thursday.

Viva's proposed liquefied natural gas (LNG) import terminal at its Geelong refinery site near Melbourne is one of five proposed projects all vying to fill a looming supply shortfall in southeast Australia from 2024.

Victoria state's planning minister is due to receive an assessment on the environmental effects of the project in September, and decide whether to approve the project by mid-October.

The state, however, is due to hold an election in November, which could delay that ruling, Wyatt told Reuters.

Assuming the project is approved, the company would have to study any conditions imposed on the development, and wrap up talks with customers before making a final investment decision.

That is "more likely to take us into next year," Wyatt said.

Viva had previously aimed to make a final investment decision by September this year and start importing LNG in 2024.

The company is working with Hoegh LNG Partners HMLP.Nto line up a floating storage and regasification unit (FSRU), a vessel that would receive LNG and turn it into gas for the domestic market.

Viva earlier this year lost its FSRU booking with Hoegh as Germany companies raced to snap up FSRUs to replace piped gas from Russia in the wake of the Ukraine conflict.

"Obviously the market's a bit tighter than it was when we first started the project, but we continue to work actively with them (Hoegh) under the MoU that we have," Wyatt said.

(Reporting by Sonali Paul; Editing by Tom Hogue)

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