PARIS, May 3 (UPI) -- French energy company GDF Suez said it signed a commercial development agreement for a liquefied natural gas project in the southern United States.
GDF Suez signed a development agreement with Cameron LNG, a unit of Sempra Energy, for the development of an LNG facility in Hackberry, La.
A new facility, associated with an existing import terminal, will be able to export as much as 12 million tons of LNG per year by 2016.
Jean-Marie Dauger, executive vice president of GDF Suez in charge of global LNG, said tapping into the U.S. market is good for his company's European portfolio.
"It will be a step further toward satisfying the LNG import requirements in our current markets, especially in Europe, and will also support the development of new international markets for GDF Suez," he said in a statement.
The United States has some of the largest natural gas reserves, much of which is locked in underground shale rock formations.
Environmental groups have expressed concern about the effects of the extraction process known as hydraulic fracturing, or fracking. Chemicals used in the process could contaminate drinking water and environmental advocacy group Sierra Club said LNG exports from the United States would lead to more "dangerous" and "reckless" fracking.