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Shell To Sign Key LNG Deal With China

Shell is unable to say when a deal with China will reach fruition

Anglo-Dutch oil corporation Royal Dutch/Shell Group said Thursday that it was confident of signing a multibillion US dollar liquefied natural gas sales deal with China at its Gorgon venture, offshore western Australia, despite recent holdups in the long-running talks, Xinhua agency reports.

"Discussions are continuing and we're still as confident as we've ever been that we will get them to conclusion at some time," said Tim Warren, chairman of Shell Australia.

But Shell is unable to say when a deal with China will reach fruition. "These LNG deals are long-term contracts that take time," Warren said.

"I think that both sides would rather get it right than actually set a deadline," he said.

The Gorgon partners signed an initial A$30 billion (US$22.72 billion) agreement in October 2003 to supply as much as 100 million tons of LNG to China National Offshore Oil Corp. (CNOOC) over 25 years.

A combined ownership and gas offtake deal was meant to be finalized with CNOOC by the end of last year. The talks also failed to meet a subsequent March 31, 2005 deadline.

The talks were complicated by an ownership restructure at Gorgon in April that doubled the amount of gas that can be marketed to customers after inclusion of the large Jansz field.

Shell owns 25 percent of the A$11 billion Gorgon venture, which is 50 percent owned and operated by Chevron Corp. The third partner is ExxonMobil Corp.