Sempra's Cameron LNG terminal applies for re-export

* Sempra hopes to re-export LNG from Cameron by Feb. 2011

* Export would allow customers increased flexibility

* Cameron follows 2 other U.S. terminals with re-export

NEW YORK, Sept 8 (Reuters) - Sempra Energy SRE.N has applied for authorization to re-export liquefied natural gas from its Cameron LNG terminal in Louisiana, according to a filing with the U.S. federal energy regulator last week.

Re-export facilities at the import terminal would allow customers to import shipped gas, store it at the terminal and export it later to higher-paying markets elsewhere.

“Sempra is seeking authorization to export for a two-year period up to 250 bcf (billion cubic feet) of LNG that has been imported into the United States from foreign sources,” the filing to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission said.

A filing has also been made to the Department of Energy.

The company is asking for approval by the end this year so its re-export facilities can be in place by Feb. 1, 2011. No new construction will be needed to allow a reverse flow of LNG from the storage tanks back to the seaborne tankers, it said.

Cameron follows the lead of the Sabine Pass terminal in Louisiana and the Freeport terminal in Texas, which both received approval to re-export foreign-sourced LNG last year.

Since then, a number of tankers have been re-exported to importers in Asia who pay more for imported gas.

The Cameron LNG terminal, like all the U.S. Gulf terminals, has received only sporadic volumes since it began operations in July last year, with low U.S. gas prices and weak demand keeping shippers from sending many cargoes there.

Demand in Asia and Europe, on the other hand, has picked up since the recession, buoying gas prices and attracting incremental spot cargoes of shipped gas.

European gas prices are currently about $2.70 per million British thermal units above U.S. gas prices, with spot LNG prices in Asia nearly $5 higher.

“Several of Cameron LNG’s potential customers have expressed a strong interest in delivering cargoes to Cameron LNG, if they could be assured of the flexibility to either sell gas in the U.S. or export foreign-sourced LNG for sale abroad,” the filing said. (Reporting by Edward McAllister; Editing by Marguerita Choy)