Spain's Gas Natural to receive Cheniere LNG ahead of time

MADRID Tue May 7, 2013 6:56am EDT

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MADRID May 7 (Reuters) - Spain's Gas Natural Fenosa will start receiving liquefied natural gas (LNG) from Cheniere Energy's plant in Louisiana in the second quarter of 2016, about a year ahead of schedule, its chief executive said on Tuesday.

CEO Rafael Villaseca said Gas Natural, with a contract to receive up to 5 billion cubic metres (bcm) of LNG from Cheniere's Sabine Pass project over 20 years, had expected deliveries to begin in the third quarter of 2017.

But with the export plant on the Gulf of Mexico running ahead of schedule, the Spanish firm has agreed to start taking 3 bcm of LNG ahead of time.

"We're bringing forward by more than a year the purchase of 3 bcm under the same conditions," Villaseca said on a conference call.

Booming natural gas output from U.S. shale deposits has unlocked plentiful, cheap gas that producers want to liquefy for export to higher paying markets overseas.

Cheniere has said it could start selling spot LNG from Sabine Pass as early as late 2015, setting the stage to export 2 million tonnes per annum (mpta) of U.S. supplies to global markets.

The Houston-based company has firm supply deals with South Korea's state-owned gas buyer KOGAS, Britain's BG Group, India's GAIL as well as Gas Natural.

Gas Natural posted a forecast-beating 1 percent rise in first-quarter net profit on Tuesday, with strength from its international natural gas and liquefied natural gas businesses offseting weakness in its recession-hit domestic market.

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