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Aramco taps into U.S. shale gas boom with Sempra LNG deal

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Saudi Aramco agreed to a buy a stake in Sempra Energy’s Texas LNG export terminal, giving the world’s biggest oil exporter a foothold in the fast-growing global gas trade.

The proposed deal, which also includes an agreement to buy gas from the plant, would mark Aramco’s first entry into production of oil or gas outside Saudi Arabia. Aramco can potentially ship the LNG home to the kingdom’s power plants or trade it globally. The state-owned company and Sempra signed a preliminary agreement to acquire a 25% stake in the plant, but didn’t disclose the value of the potential deal.

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Sempra did not immediately comment Wednesday on the deal size. A recent transaction could give a guideline for what the deal with Aramco is worth. France’s Total SA paid about $1.5 billion for the LNG assets of utility Engie SA, which included shares in Sempra’s Cameron LNG plant in the U.S.

Sempra shares rose as much as 1.2% Wednesday, to $133.04. The company just had it’s best quarter since 2002. The shares are trading at an all-time high.

Giles Farrer, a Wood Mackenzie analyst, said it would be one of the biggest LNG deals ever signed if converted to a sales and purchase agreement. “This is a signal of Aramco’s intent to become a global gas player and develop a broad LNG portfolio,” he said in a research note.

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