September 27, 2011 / 10:10 PM / 8 years ago

Sempra attracts interest for US LNG export

* Sempra receives keen interest in export plan

* Low US gas prices make export potentially viable

* Sempra one of a cluster of companies looking at export

By Edward McAllister

NEW YORK, Sept 27 (Reuters) - Sempra Energy (SRE.N) has taken a further step toward exporting natural gas from the oversupplied United States, after receiving keen interest from potential customers, the company said on Tuesday.

San Diego-based Sempra, which owns liquefied natural gas (LNG) import terminals in Louisiana and Baja California, is considering export as record domestic U.S. gas production pressures prices far below global levels.

“We have strong interest from third parties (for LNG export),” a Sempra spokeswoman told Reuters.

LNG is natural gas cooled to liquid for shipping overseas.

Sempra said in June that it was tentatively mulling construction of an export plant at its import site in Cameron, Louisiana, if customers were willing to carry the risk of fluctuating gas markets. [ID:nN0796303]

At the time it declined to say if it was in talks.

U.S. natural gas prices are well below levels in Europe and Asia thanks to ample supply, making export potentially profitable, but analysts say it is risky to assume that U.S. prices will remain relatively low over the 25 year life of an export project.

“Building a liquefaction facility in the U.S. ... only makes sense if prices in the U.S. remain significantly lower than Europe or Asia for the long term,” Sempra said in June.

However, a number of LNG importers have applied for permits to export LNG from the United States. The about turn has been prompted by massive increases in shale gas production which have eroded U.S. LNG import needs and dented prices since 2007.

Reporting by Edward McAllister; Editing by David Gregorio

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