Conoco Decision On LNG Project Could Come In May

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ConocoPhillips, the third-largest U.S. oil company, and Australia's Origin Energy could make a decision on moving forward with their $18 billion liquefied natural gas project as soon as May. The Queensland project received approval from Australian regulators earlier this month and is expected to begin production in 2015.

Texas-based Conoco (COP) is looking to make a decision on the project in the May-July time period, but a decision could come sooner rather than later, ConocoPhillips Australia President Todd Creeger said in an interview with Bloomberg News.

Conoco could sell debt to raise cash to fund the Queensland project. Several Western oil majors are honing in on Australia as a key market for their future LNG plans as demand for cleaner burning fuels by Asia's emerging economies continues to climb. Nearly $200 billion in LNG projects are being planned in Australia.

Chevron (CVX), the second-largest U.S. company, is a major player in Australia's $43 billion Gorgon gas project. Royal Dutch Shell (RDS-A), Europe's largest oil company, said last year it is planning to invest $50 billion in Australia over the next decade.