PERTH, Australia, Feb. 26 (UPI) -- Australian gas leader Woodside said it was wading into the growing liquefied natural gas sector in the United States with an agreement to tap Texas port developments.
Woodside announced it entered into a non-binding project development agreement with the LNG affiliate of Sempra Energy. Under the terms of the arrangement, both sides will assess potential opportunities for an LNG facility in Port Arthur, Texas.
"This opportunity fits well with our focus on building our business in core areas and offering our customers competitive and diverse supply options," Woodside CEO Peter Coleman said in a statement.
A potential site for LNG development in Texas could have export capacity. Sempra last year started the filing process with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to export LNG sourced from U.S. reserve basins to countries that have, or will have, a free-trade deal with the United States.
A special permit is needed to export LNG sources from domestic reserves to countries that don't have a U.S. free-trade agreement. This week, Cheniere Energy shipped the first cargo of LNG sourced from inland shale basins in the United States to Brazilian state-run energy company Petrobras.
The company's $18 billion Sabine Pass terminal has six processing centers that can each produce about 4.5 million tons per year of LNG.
Cheniere Energy Partners, which operates the Sabine Pass liquefaction plant in Cameron Parish, La., said in a statement the loading marked a new era for the U.S. LNG sector.
Sempra's project in Texas is slated for a 2018 launch and could have the capability to export 12 million tons of LNG, or around 1.7 billion cubic feet per day.
The groups behind the project have export deals with several Asian countries.