Japan's Mitsui, Mitsubishi to buy Australia LNG stake for $2 bln

SYDNEY Mon Apr 30, 2012 7:42pm EDT

SYDNEY May 1 (Reuters) - Japan's Mitsui & Co and Mitsubishi Corp have agreed to jointly buy a 14.7 percent stake in an Australian LNG project from Woodside Petroleum for $2 billion and to buy 1.5 million tonnes of gas a year from the project.

The two firms, through a company called Japan Australia LNG, have also offered assistance in getting financing for the Browse project, estimated by analyst to cost around A$30 billion ($31 billion), from Japanese banks.

Woodside, which has accepted the offer, said its stake in the project will fall to 31.3 percent from 46 percent. It will remain the operator of the project.

The other stakeholders in the project are BHP Billiton , BP, Chevron and Shell, which have pre-emptive rights on the stake sale.

Last month, Australia gave partners in the Browse project off its western coast more time to reach a final investment decision, as attempts are made to end in-fighting and quell opposition from environmentalists and landowners.

1 = 0.9606 Australian dollars)

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