ExxonMobil says marketing on for PNG LNG project

DARWIN, July 18 (Reuters) - U.S. energy major ExxonMobil Corp XOM.N has begun discussions with gas buyers for its planned liquefied natural gas (LNG) project in Papua New Guinea (PNG), a company official said on Friday.

“Discussions with buyers began this month,” Jeff Appleton, vice president of marketing for the PNG LNG project told an oil and gas conference in Darwin. He did not give further details.

Buyers who have expressed interest in Exxon's PNG LNG project include India's Petronet LNG PLNG.BO, which said early this year that it was looking to buy gas from the 6.3 million tonnes a year project.

ExxonMobil is leading the marketing efforts on behalf of venture partners, which include Oil Search Ltd OSH.AX and Santos Ltd STO.AX.

Oil Search Executive General Manager Phil Bainbridge told the conference that the $11 billion project was on track for a final investment decision in late 2009, with first LNG production scheduled between 2013-2014. Bainbridge said Oil Search was also looking at “building new LNG trains” as an option to commercialise its remaining gas resources.

“We have got capacity to produce an additional 3.2 million tonnes a year of LNG,” Bainbridge said. (Reporting by Fayen Wong; Editing by Tomasz Janowski)