APA, Cooper Energy Look To Speed Up Australia Offshore Gas Project


MELBOURNE, Feb 27 (Reuters) - APA Group has agreed to acquire a gas processing plant from Cooper Energy in a move that will help speed up development of a A$355 million ($273 million) gas project off the Australian state of Victoria.

APA and Cooper Energy's deal comes at a time when Australia's southeastern states face a likely gas supply crunch in the next two years as demand has soared and new supply has been limited by drilling bans onshore.

"With this Heads of Agreement in place, we are now able to proceed with the final phase of securing what we need to finance the Sole Gas Project," Cooper Energy Managing Director David Maxwell said in a statement.

Cooper Energy is looking to develop the Sole gas field in the Gippsland Basin, with first gas expected in late 2018. Gas would be processed at a plant onshore in Orbost, which APA has agreed to buy and spend A$250 million to upgrade.

The plant could handle gas from Cooper's Sole and Manta gas fields and other companies' projects in the future, adding to APA's already dominant role in delivering gas in eastern Australia through its extensive pipeline network.

(Reporting by Sonali Paul; Editing by Cynthia Osterman)


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