Australia’s Exxonmobil signs 21 bln dlr India deal: minister

MELBOURNE, August 11, 2009 (AFP) – Energy giant Exxonmobil’s Australian arm has signed a gas supply contract with India’s Petronet worth 25 billion dollars (21 billion US) over 20 years, Energy Minister Martin Ferguson said Tuesday. Ferguson said the liquefied natural gas (LNG) deal heralded a new trading partnership between Australia and India.

“I hope this new partnership with India will grow to be as significant as our LNG export trade with our friends in East and North East Asia,” Ferguson said in a statement.

Under the contract signed in Perth late Monday, Exxonmobil Australia will supply 1.5 million tonnes of LNG a year from the Gorgon gas fields off Western Australia.

Ferguson said it was Australia’s first long-term LNG supply contract with India.

Gorgon joint venture partners Chevron, ExxonMobil and Royal Dutch Shell are yet to give final approval to the project but the Indian deal is seen as a major step in pushing it through.

“We welcome Petronet LNG as a foundation customer for the Gorgon LNG Project and look forward to a long and successful relationship,” ExxonMobil Australia vice president Luke Musgrave said in a statement.

The plant will be built on Barrow Island, a nature reserve