LUANDA (Reuters) - Angola’s first liquefied natural gas (LNG) plant should be ready to start exporting gas in the first quarter of 2012, the director of the project said, despite higher-than-expected costs for the plant.
“The project is on track,” Daniel Rocha, director of Angola LNG, told Reuters in an interview on Monday.
Oil majors Chevron, Total, BP Plc and Eni Spa have agreed to build the terminal in Angola with state oil company Sonangol.
Rocha said the cost of building the plant — estimated at between $8 and $10 billion — was higher than initially expected because the facility was being built in a remote area of Angola and that construction began at a time of high oil prices.
He declined to provide a final figure for the plant but said the recent downturn in the oil and gas sector could help bring down the overall cost of the project.
“We’re talking about the biggest project of the kind in Angola and maybe even in Africa,” he said. “We began building the plant when the industry was booming but now we are trying to take advantage of the downturn to bring down costs.”
The LNG plant was initially expected to cost $4 billion. State-owned Jornal de Angola recently said the cost of the plant had doubled to $8 billion while Chevron put a preliminary $10 billion price-tag on the project.
Located near the coastal town of Soyo in northern Angola, the plant will produce around 5.2 million metric tonnes a year of LNG and related products to export to the United States, Europe and Asia, said Rocha.
Asked if the ongoing global economic downturn could have a negative impact on the timing and funding of the plant, Rocha replied: “No, the project is being financed by our partners which are big, strong companies with solid financials.
“The government is also committed to the building of the plant and that commitment makes us feel somewhat comfortable.”
Sonangol has a 22.8 percent stake in Angola LNG, Chevron holds 36.4 percent, while Eni, Total and BP each hold a stake of 13.6 percent.
The south-western African nation, which rivals Nigeria as the continent’s biggest oil producer, is also building a new $8 billion oil refinery in Lobito, a city south of the capital Luanda.