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Sempra plans natural gas export terminal in La.

HACKBERRY, La. (AP) -- Sempra Energy says it will develop a $6 billion liquefied natural gas export terminal at its existing import terminal at Hackberry in southwestern Louisiana.

It's the third LNG export terminal in the works for Louisiana. Cheniere Energy Inc. said late Monday that it has received permission from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to modify its import terminal at Sabine Pass in Cameron Parish for exports, making it the first large-scale U.S. gas exporter.

Energy Transfer Equity LP has filed for federal permission to build an export facility at its import terminal at Lake Charles.

The facilities will chill natural gas into a liquid that can be shipped on tankers and will allow U.S.-based producers to export natural gas to overseas markets for higher profits. A recent production boom has pushed U.S. natural gas prices to 10-year lows.

However, some politicians, chemical companies and other industry players argue that exporting natural gas will boost prices at home and increase energy costs.

San Diego-based Sempra said Tuesday that its Cameron LNG unit already has federal Energy Department permission to export up to 12 million tons a year of LNG — or 1.7 billion cubic feet per day —to countries with which the United States has a free trade agreement.

Sempra said Mitsubishi Corp. and Mitsui & Co. Ltd. have signed on as partners to develop and market the facility. If the project is approved by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, Sempra said it expects construction to begin in late 2013 with exports starting in late 2016.