A gas flare at a gas facility in the north of Western Australia.  Source: AFP

A gas flare at a gas facility in the north of Western Australia. Source: AFP

CANBERRA: Australia on Thursday announced liquefied natural gas (LNG) deals worth up to 60 billion US dollars with Japan and South Korea, raising its status as a major energy supplier.
Prime Minister Kevin Rudd said Chevron Australia would supply three firms from the planned Gorgon field off the country's west, just weeks after joint venture partner ExxonMobil's record 41 billion US dollar deal with PetroChina.
"These contracts will deliver in the order of 70 billion (Australian) dollars worth of exports to Australia over the next 25 years," Rudd told parliament.
Under the contracts, Rudd said Chevron would supply 1.375 million tonnes of LNG a year to Osaka Gas, 1.1 million tonnes to Tokyo Gas and 0.5 million tonnes to GS Caltex of South Korea.
ExxonMobil's earlier deal with PetroChina, the biggest in Australian history, followed a separate 21 billion dollar supply agreement between India's Petronet and Gorgon's developers.
"It's been a great month for the Australian LNG export industry," Rudd said.
Chevron said more Gorgon LNG gas contracts were expected to be signed in coming weeks.
"These agreements represent a significant milestone in Chevron?s efforts to commercialise our equity natural gas and grow our LNG business," Chevron global gas president John Gass said.
Joint venture partners Chevron, Shell and ExxonMobil are expected to finalise development plans for Gorgon before the year's end with production slated to begin in 2014.
The plant will be built on Barrow Island, a nature reserve about 70 kilometres (44 miles) off Western Australia. The Australian government approved the project last month, subject to environment safeguards.
Gorgon is just one of a clutch of LNG projects planned in the next decade that analysts say will pump tens of billions of dollars into the economy and see Australia challenge Qatar as the world's major gas exporter.
"These are massive projects that will generate economic growth, income, jobs and prosperity for the nation for decades to come," Rudd said.
Australia exported 15.2 million tonnes of LNG worth 5.2 billion dollars in 2006, a figure the government estimates will quadruple to 60 million tonnes by 2015 if all currently planned projects proceed.