ConocoPhillips closes Kenai plant, continues buyer search

    KENAI, Alaska (AP) — ConocoPhillips is preparing to fully shut down its Kenai liquefied natural gas plant while it continues to find a buyer for it.

    ConocoPhillips spokeswoman Amy Burnett said Wednesday that the company is preparing to put the plant into long-term shutdown mode this fall, The Alaska Journal of Commerce reported ( ). The closure will focus on preserving the plant for future exports, Burnett said.

    The Kenai facility has been idle for nearly two years, with its last export having been in fall 2015.

    The company began marketing the plant for sale in January, but a deal has yet to materialize either with a state-owned corporation that showed interest or a private party. Those discussions with potential buyers are ongoing, Burnett said.

    The Kenai LNG plant was the world's largest when it opened in 1969 and has served as a means to strengthen the trade relationship between Alaska and Japan, where most of its products ended up.

    The plant has filled LNG tankers with more than 1,300 shipments of cargo over its nearly 50-year life.

    Selling the LNG facilities would complete ConocoPhillips' exit from the Cook Inlet gas market. Early in 2016, the company sold off its last stake in Inlet gas reserves when it sold its one-third share of the longstanding Beluga River gas field to Anchorage utilities for $152 million.

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