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Inpex to Make Australia Focus of $44 Billion Exploration Plan

Inpex Corp., Japan’s biggest energy explorer, plans to spend $44 billion on exploration and development to double its production by early next decade, investing a significant amount in Australia.

Inpex, developing the $34 billion Ichthys liquefied natural gas project in northern Australia, already has stakes in 10 exploration blocks surrounding the Ichthys field, President Toshiaki Kitamura said in notes for a speech he’s scheduled to give today at a conference in Perth. The LNG will be produced in the Northern Territory capital of Darwin.

“I fully expect we will discover resources to supply the Ichthys LNG plant in Darwin well into the future,” he said. The investment goal is over five years through 2016, he said.

The Ichthys LNG project, one of seven under construction in Australia to meet rising Asian demand for the fuel, is expected to generate total revenue of more than A$250 billion ($232 billion), Kitamura said. The developments are forecast to make the country the world’s largest exporter of LNG.

Disagreement between LNG buyers and sellers about how the gas should be priced and future supply and demand could delay the expansion of the LNG industry in a “worst-case scenario,” Kitamura said. Buyers should consider becoming the sellers’ partners in the development of the gas fields as one way to align their views on the market, the Inpex president said.

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