* Cheniere to sell 3.5 mtpa of LNG to Gas Natural Fenosa * Deal lasts for 20 years * Cheniere closer to financing Sabine Pass export plant By Edward McAllister NEW YORK, Nov 21 (Reuters) - Cheniere Energy moved a step closer on Monday to exporting U.S. shale gas across the globe, announcing a second supply deal that could secure financing for the first U.S. gas export plant in nearly 50 years. Under the $9 billion, 20-year agreement with Spain's Gas Natural Fenosa , Cheniere will sell 3.5 million tonnes per year (mtpa) of liquefied natural gas for shipment overseas from Sabine Pass in Louisiana by 2016. It follows a similar deal inked with BG Group in October and will help Houston-based Cheniere reach a final investment decision on the proposed project by early next year, pending regulatory approval. "Sabine Liquefaction has now reached its contract capacity target of 7.0 mtpa, which is expected to support the construction of the first two trains," Cheniere said in a statement. LNG is natural gas cooled to a liquid for shipping overseas. Gas Natural Fenosa will pay Cheniere about $454 million per year for use of the terminal, construction of which could begin in 2012. It will buy LNG from Cheniere at a 15 percent premium to U.S. benchmark futures at Henry Hub. The deals mark a turnaround for a U.S. natural gas market swamped by huge rises in shale gas production that have sent prices plummeting way below global levels. Record U.S. natural gas production has led to a series of rival export proposals hoping to sell LNG to higher-paying, thirsty markets in Asia and Europe. Five projects across the United States and two in western Canada have applied for construction and export licenses, seeking long-term deals predominantly with buyers in Asia where prices are four times higher than those in the United States.