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Venture Global seeks U.S. OK to start early work on Plaquemines LNG plant

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Oct 26 (Reuters) - U.S. liquefied natural gas company Venture Global LNG on Tuesday sought permission from U.S. regulators to start early site work on the company's proposed Plaquemines export plant in Louisiana.

Plaquemines will likely be the first and possibly the only U.S. LNG export project to go forward in 2021 after no U.S. projects started in 2020 and a record number of North American projects started construction in 2019, according to analysts.

Gas prices were currently trading near record levels around the world as utilities scramble for supplies of LNG to meet dangerously low stockpiles in Europe ahead of the winter heating season and to meet insatiable demand for the fuel in Asia, where energy shortages have caused power blackouts in China.

Venture Global asked the U.S. Federal Energy Regulatory Commission for permission by Nov. 25 to start installing piles and pile caps for the heavy haul bridge.

The heavy haul bridge will allow transport of heavy modules from offloading facilities located on the Mississippi River.

In April, Venture Global said construction firm Zachry Group will work with engineering firm KBR Inc to build the first phase at Plaquemines.

The venture, called KZJV, will install modular liquefaction trains at Plaquemines that are similar to systems being put in place at Venture Global's Calcasieu Pass LNG plant in Louisiana.

Venture Global said on its website that it expects a financial close on Plaquemines in the fourth quarter of 2021, which analysts said could allow the plant to produce its first LNG in 2024.

Plaquemines would produce up to 20 million tonnes per annum (MTPA) of LNG. Analysts have said the plant would cost about $8.9 billion.

Chinese firms agreed to buy about 5 MTPA of LNG under long-term deals from Venture Global, according to filings with the U.S. Department of Energy.

(Reporting by Scott DiSavino; Editing by Steve Orlofsky)

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