PARIS, Sept 12 (Reuters) - The ports of Dunkirk in northern France and Zeebrugge in Belgium have been shortlisted by Russia's Yamal LNG project in a tender to find a transshipment facility in western Europe for ice-class tankers, the head of the French port said on Thursday.
The $20 billion Yamal LNG project, a planned Arctic liquefied natural gas project being jointly developed by Russia's Novatek, France's Total and China's CNPC, is slated to start producing gas in 2016.
Yamal LNG is looking for a port in northwest Europe to transfer the super-cooled gas from ice-class LNG tankers into regular LNG tankers. Bids from the Isle of Grain in Britain and the Montoir terminal in Brittany have been rejected, a trade union source told Reuters.
"There is a shortlist, with only Dunkirk and Zeebrugge," Christine Cabau Woehrel, chief executive of Dunkerque-Port, told Reuters on the sidelines of a gas conference.
"There were many more candidates earlier on. I hope that Dunkirk is well placed (to win the tender)," she said. A final decision is expected by the end of the year, Jean-Marc Guyot, head of LNG operator Elengy, also told Reuters.
French state-owned utility EDF and Total are building a 13 billion cubic metre capacity LNG terminal in Dunkirk, which is expected to be completed in 2015.
The Yamal LNG project plans to produce 16.5 million tonnes of liquefied natural gas after 2018.
Novatek previously owned 80 percent in the project, but sold 20 percent to China's CNPC earlier this year. France's Total holds 20 percent in Yamal LNG. (Reporting by Michel Rose and Muriel Boselli; editing by David Evans)
Copyright 2013 Thomson Reuters. Click for Restrictions.