Costa Rica eyeing possible LNG imports from U.S.-Chinchilla

SAN JOSE Fri May 3, 2013 9:09pm EDT

SAN JOSE May 3 (Reuters) - The United States may in the future export liquefied natural gas to Costa Rica to help mitigate the Central American nation's high energy prices, President Laura Chinchilla said on Friday.

Speaking at a press conference alongside United States President Barack Obama, Chinchilla said the two governments had "explored" using the pre-existing Central American Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA) to possibly begin importing the fuel.

"We explored using CAFTA to, in the future and once the United States government resolves some internal situations, be able to import liquefied natural gas," she said.

The United States, once a guaranteed importer, is enjoying a lucrative energy boom and is expected to boost exports further, despite concerns that the surge could push prices higher at home.

Costa Rican Environment Minister Rene Castro said before the conference that his delegation had asked Obama for preferential pricing for shipments of LNG to supply the Central American region.

"We're having this discussion because of scale, because the cost of infrastructure, the boats, transport, makes it cheaper to transport large quantities," he said, adding that Obama reacted positively to the request.

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