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Bloomberg: Inpex Rules Out Taking Shell as Australian LNG Project Partner

By Shigeru Sato

Sept. 20 (Bloomberg) — Inpex Holdings Inc said it will maintain its plan to develop natural gas in Australia’s Ichthys field with Total SA, ruling out an option of taking Royal Dutch Shell Plc as a partner.

Shell, which has discovered gas in a permit area adjacent to Ichthys, is considering options for developing the field, including joining with companies such as Inpex, the Australian said today, citing Linda Cook, Shell’s executive director, gas and power.

“Total and Inpex will go ahead with the project on our own without joining Shell,” Kazuya Honda, an Inpex spokesman, said by telephone in Tokyo. “There are enough gas reserves in the field to build our liquefied natural gas plant as planned.”

Inpex, Japan’s largest oil explorer, and Paris-based Total plan to construct the LNG plant on uninhabited Maret Island to process gas from the Ichthys field in the Browse Basin off the Kimberley coast.

Under the project, Inpex and Total plan to construct the LNG plant with an annual capacity of 7.6 million metric tons, with commercial production slated to begin in 2012. Inpex will make the final investment decision in the fourth quarter next year, Honda said.

“We’ve started marketing Ichthys LNG to customers” including Japanese power and gas utilities, Honda said.

Inpex in June won the consent of traditional Aboriginal landowners in Australia’s northwest to start negotiating development consents for the project. The Japanese company may receive approvals from federal and state governments and environmental authorities by the end of this year, Melinda Hayes, a spokeswoman for Inpex’s Browse project, said in July.

To contact the reporter on this story: Shigeru Sato in Tokyo at [email protected] .

Last Updated: September 20, 2007 00:08 EDT

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