October 25, 2012 / 4:16 AM / 5 years ago

Australia approves Bonaparte floating LNG plant

PERTH, Oct 25 (Reuters) - Australia gave the green light to GDF Suez's Bonaparte floating liquefied natural gas (LNG) project off the coast of northern Australia on Thursday, making it the second such facility to be approved in Australia.

France's GDF Suez and its partner, Australia-based Santos plan to make a final investment decision on the 2 million tonne per annum (mpta) development in 2014.

"My approval follows a rigorous assessment process under national environment law including the opportunity for public comment," Environment Minister Tony Burke said.

Burke said the had laid out 15 conditions to manage the potential impacts of the development on migratory and threatened species and on the marine environment.

There are no floating LNG facilities in operation globally, but Royal Dutch Shell's Prelude project, also off the Australian coast, is expected to be the first to come online in 2017.

The approval of the Bonaparte floating LNG plant comes as Australia is in the midst of an LNG boom, with over $170 billion worth of LNG developments that will add 80 mtpa of production before the end of the decade and make Australia the world's top exporter of the fuel.

The flurry of investment has resulted in huge costs increases due to the cost of labour and the high Australian dollar, causing some industry experts that new LNG developments may be less likely.

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