Approval of LNG plants on schedule

FEDERAL environmental approval of liquefied natural gas (LNG) plants on Curtis Island will stay on schedule, according to the new Federal Environment Minister, Tony Burke.

“I'm intending to keep to previous timetables,” Mr Burke told The Observer yesterday.

This comes after speculation that the new minister needed more time to access the Environmental Impact Statements for Santos's Gladstone liquefied natural gas project (GLNG) and British Gas (BG) QCLNG on Curtis Island.

The date set previously by former environment minister Peter Garrett was for October 11.

“Departmental advice on a number of these applications should be with me soon and I'll be working through that advice as a priority,” Mr Burke said.

Santos and BG are planning to take the final investment decision on its coal seam gas GLNG project in December.

Analysts have speculated that if the federal approval process slips beyond October, Santos's target of a GLNG Train 1 final investment decision by the end of 2010 could be in jeopardy.

The announcement from the Environment Minister comes on the eve of an expected deal between Korea Gas Corporation (KOGAS) and Santos to become a 10% investor in a $15 billion project.

The GLNG project is held 45% by Santos, 35% by Malaysian state-owned oil and gas company Petronas, and 20% by French major Total, which paid $785 million for its stake earlier this month.

Santos chief executive David Knox said yesterday the GLNG project was on track for first shipments in 2014.

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