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Venture Global to expand LNG production capacity to meet customer demand

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March 14 (Reuters) - Venture Global LNG Inc said on Thursday it wants to expand the capacity of its liquefied natural gas (LNG) business to 60 million tonnes per annum (MTPA) to meet growing demand.

If the company builds all 60 MTPA of capacity, it could become the biggest U.S. LNG supplier ahead of current market leader Cheniere Energy Inc.

Venture Global, however, has a long way to go before it can challenge Cheniere's dominance.

Cheniere has 31.2 MTPA in operation, 10 MTPA under construction and 15 MTPA under development for a grand total of 56.2 MTPA at its two LNG export terminal - Sabine Pass in Louisiana and Corpus Christi in Texas.

In addition, Cheniere said it is looking at other projects beyond its announced development plans.

Venture Global, meanwhile, has two LNG export projects under development in Louisiana - the 10 MTPA Calcasieu Pass and the 20 MTPA Plaquemines Parish.

One million tonnes per annum of LNG is about the same as 0.13 billion cubic feet per day (bcfd) of natural gas. One billion cubic feet of natural gas is enough to supply about 5 million U.S. homes for a day.

Venture Global said Kiewit, Calcasieu's contractor, plans to commence full site activities imminently.

At Plaquemines, Venture Global said it expects to receive final authorization from federal regulators in August and commence construction in 2019.

Venture Global has said it expects Calcasieu to enter service in 2022 and Plaquemines in 2023.

The United States, which was a net importer of LNG before Cheniere shipped its first cargo from Sabine Pass in February 2016, is expected to become the third biggest exporter of the super-cooled fuel by capacity by the end of 2019, behind Australia and Qatar.

Looking at only the plants currently under construction, U.S. LNG export capacity is expected to rise to 8.8 bcfd by the end of 2019 and 10.3 bcfd in 2020 from 5.1 bcfd now.

To meet plans to boost output, Venture Global said it increased the size of its LNG equipment supply agreement with General Electric Co's Baker Hughes unit to 60 MTPA.

Venture Global has secured 20-year off take agreements with units of UK-Dutch oil major Royal Dutch Shell PLC, UK oil major BP PLC, Italian energy company Edison SpA , Portuguese energy company Galp Energia SGPS SA , Spanish energy company Repsol SA and Polish oil and gas company Polskie Górnictwo Naftowe i Gazownictwo SA (PGNiG).

(Reporting by Debroop Roy in Bengaluru and Scott DiSavino in New York; Editing by Anil D'Silva and David Gregorio)