June 21, 2010 / 3:08 PM / 10 years ago

Sempra says to keep Mexico LNG terminal open

* Costa Azul terminal to stay open

* Terminal centre of long-running dispute

Reporting by Daniel Fineren

LONDON, June 21 (Reuters) - Sempra Energy (SRE.N) will keep its Costa Azul liquefied natural gas terminal in Mexico running unless it is told to suspend operations by the government, a spokeswoman for the U.S.-based company said on Monday.

Sempra LNG has been engaged in a long-running dispute over its facility in Baja California, northern Mexico, which sends gas by north of the U.S. border by pipeline to California.

It said on Monday it had learned the claimant, Ramon Eugenio Sanchez Ritchie, had won a Baja California state court order directing Mexican regulators to suspend the plant’s permits.

“The order was issued without notice to us and in fact we were denied a formal copy by the court and we weren’t given any opportunity to appear, to argue against it, or otherwise respond,” a spokeswoman for the company told Reuters.

“Until such time as we are formally told that the permits have been suspended we will continue operations ... We currently have a ship in port right now so it would be very difficult to shut down the plant.”

The spokeswoman said Sempra expected Mexican federal authorities to overturn the order, which she said could threaten the safe operation of the facility and gas supply. None of the permits for the plant were conditional on the ownership of the disputed plot, she said.

Costa Azul, which began operations in August 2009, receives about three cargoes a month from the Tangguh plant in Indonesia.

The Tangguh Foja LNG tanker, which has the capacity to hold 154,800 cubic meters of super-cooled gas, arrived at the terminal on the Pacific coast of Mexico on Sunday, according to AIS Live. [LNG/TKUK] (Additional reporting by Edward McAllister in New York))

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