July 13 (UPI) -- French supermajor Total said Friday it's now one of the largest liquefied natural gas companies in the world after buying assets from its counterpart, Engie.
The French supermajor paid $1.5 billion to acquire the exploration and production segment of Engie's LNG portfolio. Of note in the purchase was Engie's minority stake in the Cameron LNG facility in the United States, an emerging LNG exporter thanks to its rich shale natural gas reserves.
U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission found LNG plants in operation or under construction represent about 13 percent of total gas production in the United States.
Total Chairman and CEO Patrick Pouyanné said the acquisition, which also included a fleet of 18 LNG tankers and access to European regasification infrastructure, was a game changer.
"This transaction makes Total the second largest global LNG player among the majors with a worldwide market share of 10 percent," he said in a statement.
Total has been making a deep push into the LNG market. In February, the company's marine fuels division signed with Japan's Mitsui O.S.K. Lines, or MOL, a long-term charter commitment for a bunkering vessel scheduled for 2020 delivery. The vessel, the first designed for large-scale bunkering operations, will service cargo vessels in northern European waters, including those traveling the Europe-to-Asia trade routes.
Bunkering is the ship-to-ship transfer of fuel. The vessel will be used specifically for French container shipping company CMA CGM, following a 10-year agreement signed with Total in December.
Liquefied natural gas has more maneuverability than piped gas, meaning it has geopolitical implications. The U.S. government has pressed for more of its LNG in the European market to compete against piped natural gas from Russia, a source of contention for U.S. President Donald Trump.
Engie had no comment on the transaction. Last week, the company said it reshaped its management team to facilitate its transformation to a low-carbon energy leader. The company in June disposed of its coal-fired power assets in the Asia-Pacific market for net proceeds of $3 billion.