Feb 12 Rio Tinto PLC said on
Wednesday it had reached an option agreement with LNG Canada to
acquire or lease a wharf and associated land at its port
facility in northern British Columbia.
LNG Canada, a joint venture between Royal Dutch Shell PLC
, Mitsubishi Corp, Korea Gas Corp
and PetroChina Co Ltd, is developing a natural gas
liquefaction plant and export terminal in Kitimat, some 750 kms
(465 miles) up the Pacific coast from Vancouver.
The agreement, which will give LNG Canada access to Rio
Tinto's deep water port in Kitimat, provides the group with a
staged series of options payable against project milestones. Rio
did not disclose the financial terms of the deal, saying they
were "commercially confidential."
The LNG Canada project is just one of about a dozen export
terminals proposed for British Columbia's Pacific Coast as
companies race to build the infrastructure needed to get cheap
Canadian gas to booming markets in Asia.
While top global energy players like Shell, Chevron Corp
and Malaysia's Petronas have already spent
hundreds of millions on their Canadian projects, none have made
a final investment decision.
That could change soon, as British Columbia is set to
release the general framework for its proposed LNG tax regime
with its provincial budget on Tuesday, removing a key hurdle
holding companies back from those investment decisions.
LNG Canada, which has an export permit and is undergoing an
environmental review, has long been considered a front-runner,
though expectations were cooled in recent weeks after Shell
warned it would cut spending companywide and streamline its
operations following a major profit warning.
A final investment decision on the LNG Canada project is not
expected until next year.