* Peru LNG has loaded 20 cargoes so far; 58 for next year
* Potential for some cargoes to head to Asian markets
* Peru LNG running above nameplate capacity
By Edward McAllister
BARCELONA, Dec 1 (Reuters) - The new Peru liquefied natural gas export plant will load 57 or 58 cargoes next year, some of which could head to Asian markets, executives from the project said on Wednesday.
The Peru LNG terminal began exporting in June and is expected to have exported 24 cargoes by the year-end, Barbara Bruce, Peru LNG’s general manager, told the CWC LNG Summit in Barcelona.
Twenty cargoes have been shipped so far, she said.
Two-thirds of the project’s production is earmarked for the Manzanillo terminal on Mexico’s Pacific coast, which begins operations in the fourth quarter of 2011.
Before Manzanillo comes online, Spanish energy company Repsol (REP.MC), which markets the LNG from Peru, can send all cargoes elsewhere.
Most of the LNG so far has headed to North America but some cargoes could soon head to Asia, the world’s largest import market, another executive linked to Peru LNG told the conference.
“We are not ruling out the possibility of sending Peru LNG to Asia, but only the limited volume we would have after our commitments to Manzanillo,” said Benjamin Palomo, managing director of LNG at Repsol.
Repsol is in talks with Asian buyers potentially to send LNG across the Pacific. (For an interview with Repsol’s Palomo, click on [ID:nLDE6B00CA])
The first cargoes from Peru have headed to the Canaport LNG terminal in New Brunswick, east Canada, in which Repsol has a majority stake, as well as Sempra Energy’s (SRE.N) Costa Azul terminal in New Brunswick and U.S. terminals in the Gulf of Mexico.
Repsol has also sold a string of 14 cargoes from Peru LNG to European energy trader Gunvor for delivery this winter into northwestern Europe.
Peru LNG has the nameplate, or official, capacity to produce 4.5 million tonnes per year of LNG, but it is running at 102 percent of capacity, said Graham Lawton, a general manager of Compania Operadora de LNG del Peru, which overseas operations at the plant for leading shareholder Hunt Oil.
LNG production units can generally run above their nameplate capacity. There is the potential to run this plant at up to 110 percent of capacity, Lawton said, though that is not the aim at this time.
Repsol has a 20 percent stake in Peru LNG, which is operated by Texas-based Hunt Oil with a 50 percent stake. Partners include South Korea’s SK Energy and Japan’s Marubeni (8002.T). (Reporting by Edward McAllister; Editing by John Picinich and Dale Hudson)