SYDNEY (Dow Jones)
There are no visible impediments that could prevent Inpex Corp. (1605.TO) and Total SA (TOT) from giving final approval by the end of the year for construction of their more-than US$20 billion Ichthys gas export project in Australia's Northern Territory, a senior Inpex executive said Thursday.
"I can say here today there are no showstoppers or bottlenecks that could cause a substantial delay to delivering Ichthys FID (final investment decision) at the end of this year," Inpex General Manager Darwin Sean Kildare told a conference in Darwin.
Ichthys received conditional environmental approval from Australia's federal government in June and Inpex and Total have agreed to sell gas from the Ichthys field, located off Australia's northwestern coast, to companies in Japan and Taiwan.
Recent go-aheads for several rival developments in Australia are pushing up demand for labor, sparking warnings from analysts of potential delays and cost overruns, and Kildare's statements come amid renewed jitters in global financial markets.
In 2008, Inpex estimated that Ichthys would cost US$20 billion to build, but this is likely to be revised higher when the company sanctions its construction. Inpex and Total have been targeting a late-2011 sign-off for construction of a liquefied natural gas export terminal in Darwin capable of producing 8.4 million metric tons of the fuel each year, with the first cargo slated to be shipped from late 2016.
Inpex owns 74% of the project and Total owns 24%.
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