* Centrica acquires Suncor Trinidad assets
* Pays $380 million for 60 mmcf to 70 mmcf per day
* Suncor asset sales now total C$1.3 bln (Adds details. In U.S. dollars unless noted)
LONDON, Feb 25 (Reuters) - Centrica (CNA.L) will buy the Trinidadian gas properties of Suncor Energy Inc (SU.TO) for $380 million, giving the owner of British Gas its first toehold in a liquefied natural gas project, the company said on Thursday.
The deal to acquire Suncor’s portfolio of assets in Trinidad and Tobago gives the owner of Britain’s biggest household energy supplier a secure source of gas from the Caribbean country over the long term.
“This is a significant move into one of the world’s most established LNG areas providing us with access to both gas-producing and development blocks,” Centrica Chief Executive Sam Laidlaw said, announcing the deal with the company’s 2009 results. [ID:nLDE61O08N]
“This agreement builds further on our upstream capability and marks a step change in our global gas position.”
Suncor, Canada’s largest energy company, is selling the properties as its looks to winnow its holdings following its C$22.7 billion ($21.1 billion) purchase of Petro-Canada last year and raise cash to expand its Canadian oil sands production.
With the sale of its Trinidad assets, following on the disposal of gas properties in Colorado and Western Canada, Suncor has now raised C$1.3 billion and still plans to sell some assets in the North Sea and the Netherlands.
Centrica said production from its new properties should average between 60 million to 70 million cubic feet per day in 2010.
The properties include a 17.3 percent stake in the North Coast Marine Area (NCMA-1) production area and equity interests in three blocks; Blocks 22, 1(a) and 1(b), for future development.
The NCMA-1 block, which supplies gas to Trinidad’s Atlantic LNG facility, holds remaining working gas interests of 266 billion cubic feet (bcf) of proven and probable reserves attributable to Centrica’s 17.3 percent stake.
Gas produced from the block has been contracted to a third party until 2023.
Block 22 and Blocks 1(a) and 1(b) comprise 90 and 80 percent operated interests, respectively, with recoverable resources attributable to Centrica estimated at 1.34 trillion cubic feet.
Centrica said on Thursday it took delivery of 15 LNG cargoes in Britain last year and has contracted another seven for 2010.
Trinidad and Tobago is one of the biggest exporters of the super-cooled gas in the Atlantic, supplying over half of the LNG going into the United States and also supplying Europe and Asia.
Centrica has an existing gas asset in Trinidad and Tobago through an equity interest in Block 2(ab).
$1=$1.07 Canadian Additional reporting by Scott Haggett; editing by Peter Galloway Reporting by Daniel Fineren; Editing by Michael Urquhart