Osaka Gas, Chubu Elec take stakes in U.S. Freeport gas export unit

TOKYO Thu Feb 27, 2014 2:24am EST

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TOKYO Feb 27 (Reuters) - Japan's Osaka Gas Co and Chubu Electric Power Co said on Thursday each plans to invest about $600 million for individual stakes of 25 percent in a gas export facility at the Freeport LNG gas project in Texas.

Osaka Gas and Chubu Electric will take the shares in the gas liquefaction facility of the first train of the project, construction of which is set to begin on in the first half of 2014, from a Freeport subsidiary.

Output from Freeport's first train, which is expected to start in 2018, has already been sold to Osaka Gas and Chubu Electric. The Freeport project, located just south of Houston, got the conditional approval to export last May.

The U.S. Department of Energy in November conditionally approved more exports of LNG from Freeport, a move that could help boost shipments of the super cooled fuel in coming years.

The United States is producing record amounts of natural gas, thanks to a drilling boom, and is moving to become a major export hub by pitching ahead of rivals in Australia and East Africa for Asian buyers even before projects begin construction.

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