The Export-Import Bank of the United States (Ex-Im Bank) has authorized a $2.95 billion direct loan to support U.S. exports to the Australia Pacific liquefied natural gas (LNG) project. The transaction is Ex-Im’s second-largest single-project financing in history and is also the Bank’s first LNG project in Australia.
The project on Curtis Island in south-central Queensland will produce natural gas from coal-seam wells and will have total capacity of nine million metric tons per year. China Petroleum and Chemical Corp. (Sinopec) and Kansai Electric Power Co. Inc. of Japan will purchase most of the LNG produced. China Ex-Im Bank and commercial lenders are also providing debt financing for the project.
Ex-Im’s financing is expected to support an estimated 11,000 American jobs. Principal U.S. exporters are ConocoPhillips Co. and Bechtel International, both of Houston, Texas. Additional exporters and suppliers include numerous small businesses in Texas, Colorado, Nevada, California, Oregon and Oklahoma.
“Our authorization paves the way for U.S. companies to export equipment and services to this major LNG project and, in so doing, to maintain thousands of American jobs across the country,” said Ex-Im Bank Chairman and President Fred P. Hochberg. “This financing also demonstrates how the United States and China can work together for our mutual benefit to foster trade and develop critically needed energy resources.”
The transaction, approved by Ex-Im’s board of directors on May 3, was announced following Chairman Hochberg’s trip to China, where he participated in the fourth round of the Strategic and Economic Development Dialogue (S&ED) with Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner and other officials. The S&ED was held in Beijing on May 3-4.
Bechtel official Jay C. Farrar, who manages the company’s office in Washington, D.C., cited the importance of Ex-Im’s financing for U.S. exporters to large international projects. “Since 1992, Ex-Im Bank has been instrumental in the successful awarding and completion of projects involving Bechtel that have supported thousands of jobs for highly skilled employees at our company. The Bank’s financing also has helped to maintain thousands of additional jobs related to the supply chain for these projects,” Farrar said. Bechtel Corp. is an international engineering, construction and project management company.
The Australia Pacific LNG project will involve development of coal-seam natural-gas fields, two gas transmission lines to a collection hub, a natural gas liquefaction plant and an adjacent marine shipping export terminal on Curtis Island near the city of Gladstone.