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Power generator and natural gas pipeline company GasAtacama SA plans to build an up to $300 million floating liquefied natural gas regasification terminal off the northern Chilean coastline to help supply energy to the nation's copper mining industry, daily newspaper Diario Financiero reported Tuesday.
Copper miners are making multi-billion dollar investments in Chile, the world's premier copper producer, and competition to supply them with energy is fierce. Chile's copper mining industry, responsible for a third of global supply, is mainly concentrated in the northern reaches of the Andean nation.
LNG has become an important part of Chile's energy matrix in recent years with the Mejillones regasification terminal in the country's north and Quintero regasification plant in the central region.
GasAtacama, controlled by private-equity fund Southern Cross and Chilean generator Empresa Nacional de Electricidad SA, or Endesa (EOC, ENDESA.SN), plans to locate its floating regasification terminal near the GNL Mejillones regasification terminal, a joint-venture between Chilean state copper mining company Corporacion Nacional del Cobre, or Codelco, and France's GDF Suez SA (GSZ.FR).
Chile developed LNG as an energy source during former President Michelle Bachelet's term in an effort to diversify its energy mix and increase security after Argentina started to sharply reduce natural gas exports to its neighbor in 2004. A 2008 drought also severely curtailed hydroelectric production in Chile, helping to drive the development of LNG.
Chilean power generator Colbun SA (COLBUN.SN) recently said it is also studying developing an LNG regasification plant.
Central Chile's Quintero plant is controlled by London-based BG Group PLC (BG.LN) and state oil and gas company Empresa Nacional del Petroleo, or Enap, and supplies energy to the nation's largest power grid, the central SIC grid.
-By Anthony Esposito, Dow Jones Newswires; 56-2-715-8929; email@example.com