BANGALORE/TOKYO Royal Dutch Shell Plc, Mitsubishi Corp, China National Petroleum Corp and Korea Gas Corp are in the final stages of talks to build a $12.35 billion liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminal on Canada's west coast, which would be the third such project aimed at meeting demand from Asia.
The plant near Kitimat, British Columbia, aims to benefit from rising supplies due a boom in shale gas production in Canada, Japan's Nikkei business daily reported on Thursday.
The companies will ship gas from their Canadian fields and expect to begin production around 2020 at an annual rate of 12 million tons, the daily said.
Stakes in the joint venture have not been decided, but a broad agreement is expected as early as this month, after which the four companies will start seeking approval from local authorities, the Nikkei report said.
Mitsubishi Corp (8058.T), Japan's top trading house, has been considering the project to tap Japan's growing appetite for LNG.
LNG imports to Japan jumped 12.2 percent to a record 78.5 million tonnes in 2011, as the March 2011 earthquake and the Fukushima nuclear crisis boosted gas-fired power output.
A Mitsubishi spokesman said the firm "doesn't have specific details to share about it" when asked about the report.
Plentiful supplies have depressed North American gas prices to just over $2 per million British thermal units (mmBtu), sparking interest from Asian markets, where prices for spot LNG are much higher at around $16 per mmBtu.
Shell (RDSa.L) last year selected Kitimat as a possible site for LNG export terminal, making it the third considered for the region as Western Canadian natural gas producers look to tap high-paying Asian markets for the burgeoning output of the region's shale gas fields.
Canada's National Energy Board has already handed LNG-export licenses to two planned liquefaction projects near Kitimat: Kitimat LNG, backed by Apache Corp (APA.N), Encana Corp (ECA.TO) and EOG Resources (EOG.N); and to BC LNG, a privately held 13-member co-operative.
Progress Energy Resources Corp PRQ.TO and Malaysian joint-venture partner Petronas PETR.UL are carrying out a feasibility study for a project of their own.
($1 = 80.9950 yen)
(Reporting by Sagarika Jaisinghani in Bangalore and Osamu Tsukimori in Tokyo; Editing by Sreejiraj Eluvangal)