DOHA, June 21 (Reuters) - QatarEnergy on Tuesday signed a deal with Exxon Mobil Corp (XOM.N) for the Gulf state's North Field East expansion, the world's largest liquefied natural gas (LNG) project, following agreements with TotalEnergies , Eni (ENI.MI) and ConocoPhillips (COP.N).
Qatar is partnering with international companies in the first and largest phase of the nearly $30 billion expansion that will boost Qatar's position as the world's top LNG exporter.
The companies will form a joint venture and Exxon will hold a 25% stake in that, QatarEnergy CEO Saad al-Kaabi said.
The arrangement implies a 6.25% stake for Exxon in the North Field East expansion, Kaabi said.
Exxon said in a statement later on Tuesday the joint venture will hold a 25% interest in the 32 million tonnes per annum (mtpa) project, which is equivalent to one 8 mtpa LNG train for Exxon.
That would make Exxon's share of the project equal to TotalEnergies while Eni and ConocoPhillips have around 3.12% each.
Oil majors have been bidding for four trains - or liquefaction and purification facilities - that comprise the North Field East project.
In all, the North Field Expansion plan includes six LNG trains that will ramp up Qatar's liquefaction capacity from 77 million tonnes per annum (mtpa) to 126 mtpa by 2027. The fifth and sixth trains are part of a second phase, North Field South.
The North Field is part of the world's biggest gas field that Qatar shares with Iran, which calls its share South Pars.
Exxon's deep ties with Qatar go back to Mobil Oil, which helped develop the Middle East nation's giant North Field gas reservoir three decades ago.
In 1998, Exxon acquired Mobil and expanded the relationship through shares in additional processing units, LNG tankers and receiving terminals.
One of the terminals, Golden Pass in Texas, originally was designed to import Qatari LNG to the United States. The U.S. shale gas boom ended that plan and the pair are leveraging it to build an LNG export terminal.
China's national oil majors are in advanced talks with Qatar to invest in the North Field East expansion and buy the fuel under long-term contracts, three people with knowledge of the matter said last week.
It would be the first such partnership between the two nations, among the world's top LNG consumers and producers.
On Tuesday, Exxon Chief Executive Darren Woods, who travelled to Qatar for the joint announcement, said the Golden Pass project was on schedule and ExxonMobil was working with the U.S. government to accelerate it.
"Obviously we're very involved in the process and worked on the project. It's on schedule," he said.
"We're working very closely with the (U.S.) government to see what we can do to accelerate the project."