American energy giant ExxonMobil and Qatar Petroleum will invest more than $10 billion to export liquefied natural gas (LNG) from the U.S. state of Texas, the companies announced on Tuesday.
ExxonMobil said in a statement the companies made a final investment decision to proceed with development of the Golden Pass LNG export project located in Sabine Pass, Texas.
The project will have an LNG production capacity of around 16 million tons per year to supply the global market, according to the statement.
Construction of the export facility will begin in the first quarter of 2018, and the exports are expected to start in 2024, it added.
"The extensive experience of ExxonMobil and Qatar Petroleum provides the expertise, resources and financial strength needed to construct and operate an integrated liquefaction and export facility in the United States," Darren Woods, chairman and chief executive officer of ExxonMobil Corporation, said in the statement.
"Golden Pass will provide an increased, reliable, long-term supply of liquefied natural gas to global gas markets, stimulate local growth and create thousands of jobs,” he added.
The project could generate up to $31 billion in U.S. economic gains, and more than $4.6 billion in direct federal, state and local tax revenues over the life of the project, according to preliminary estimates by an independent study, the statement said.
"This investment of over $10 billion is of a particular importance as one of the largest single investment decisions in U.S. LNG history," Qatar's Minister of State for Energy Affairs, President and CEO of Qatar Petroleum Saad Sherida Al-Kaabi said in a separate statement.
"The Golden Pass LNG export project is not our first investment in the United States, and is certainly not going to be our last. It represents a significant part of the plans that Qatar Petroleum had announced to invest $20 billion in the U.S. energy sector," he added.
ExxonMobil has 30 percent interest in the Golden Pass LNG export project, while Qatar Petroleum has 70 percent stake.
Qatar Petroleum also has joint efforts with ExxonMobil in exploration and development activities in Argentina, Brazil and Mozambique.
The U.S. Secretary of Energy Rick Perry, who attended the agreement ceremony in Washington D.C., said the project is "proof that two of the world’s top energy producers can work together as allies to increase energy diversity, advance energy security, and support rather than subvert an open energy marketplace."
Qatar is the world's LNG champion for 12 consecutive years. The small Arab nation plans to increase its LNG production capacity per annum from 77 million tons to 110 million tons, according to Al-Kaabi on Sept. 26, 2018.
By Ovunc Kutlu