Australia's Linc Energy May Seek Partner to Develop A$1 Billion Plant

Linc Energy Ltd., an Australian clean fuel company, may seek a partner to help develop its planned A$1 billion ($918 million) commercial coal gas-to-liquids plant amid surging construction costs.

“We don’t want a partner who will just bring money,” Chief Executive Officer Peter Bond said today in an interview on Australian Broadcasting Corp. television. Brisbane-based Linc wants a partner who also can add technology and help with distribution, he said.

Chevron Corp.’s A$43 billion Gorgon project is one of more than a dozen proposed liquefied natural gas ventures being developed in Australia to meet Asian demand for cleaner-burning fuels. The cost of building such plants in Australia is now 40 percent higher than in most parts of North America, Bond said.

“Australia is unfortunately a very expensive place,” he said. “You’ve got more people competing for fewer resources.”

Linc, which last week agreed to sell a coal asset in Australia for A$3 billion to India’s Adani Enterprises Ltd., has risen 20 percent this year on the Australian stock exchange. It has a market value of A$950 million.

The company has a demonstration plant in Chinchilla, Queensland state, which uses underground coal gasification and gas-to-liquids technology to produce fuels, according to the company’s website.

Linc plans to build plant parts in Asia as engineering and construction costs in Australia are too high, driven by the rebounding economy and the mining and energy sector, Bond said. The company has sites in Wyoming, Alaska and parts of Australia, Asia and Europe, he said.

It takes about 20 months to build a commercial plant, and the company, which could fund the project itself, may start that process in “a few months,” Bond said. Linc is still a “couple of years” away from becoming fully commercial, he said.

To contact the reporter on this story: Sarah McDonald in Sydney at smcdonald23@bloomberg.net.

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