ExxonMobil Corp (XOM) has finalized financing and sales agreements and said that it can now start developing a liquefied natural gas (LNG) project in Papua New Guinea (PNG).

Exxon has made a sales agreement with Osaka Gas Company and Tokyo Electrical Power Company of Japan, Taiwan’s CPC and China’s Sinopec (SNP). Funding for this project will come from the co-venturers and through market-rate loans arranged with export credit agencies and commercial sources.

Investment for the initial phase of the project is estimated at $15 billion and the first LNG deliveries are scheduled to start in 2014. Over its 30-year life, PNG is expected to produce over 9 trillion cubic feet of

The PNG project is an integrated development that includes gas production and processing facilities, onshore and offshore pipelines and LNG plant facilities with a capacity of 6.6 million tons per annum.

ExxonMobil leads the project through its local affiliate, Esso Highlands, with a 33.2% interest. Other partners are Port Moresby-based independent Oil Search (29% interest), a PNG government vehicle Independent Public Business Corporation (16.6%), Australian gas player Santos (13.5%), Japan’s Nippon Oil Exploration (4.7%), Mineral Resources Development Company (PNG landowners, 2.8%) and Petromin PNG Holdings Limited (0.2%).

Exxon has a diversified list of major projects that it plans to begin over the next few years. Apart from the PNG project, the company will begin the Golden Pass LNG Terminal in the second half of 2010. It will also initiate its second Sakhalin-1 development project in the Odoptu field offshore Sakhalin Island in Russia, Kearl Phase 1 in the Canadian oil sands and several deepwater projects.

ExxonMobil is the best-run integrated oil company in the world thanks to its track record of superior return on capital employed (ROCE) and free cash flow (FCF) relative to its peers. Shares of Exxon fell 0.6% to close at $66.80 Friday.

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