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Sempra Primed for Rockies Pipeline, LNG Project Finance, CFO Says

Brimming with confidence fueled by a strong portfolio of businesses, San Diego-based Sempra Energy is bullish about its prospects in a joint venture to build a major new natural gas pipeline from the Rockies to the East. It also expects to project finance all three of its proposed liquefied natural gas (LNG) receiving terminals, CEO Neal Schmale told analysts at the Bank of America 2005 Energy Conference in San Diego Tuesday.

As it stands, Sempra feels it can comfortably meet stepped up infrastructure investment requirements in its utility holdings in Southern California and at the same time move into a partnership with Kinder Morgan Energy Partners to develop the 1,350-mile, 42-inch-diameter "Rockies Express" interstate pipeline.

"One of our approaches for all of these projects is not to build them until they are essentially contracted," said Schmale, who early next year becomes head of all of Sempra's nonutility businesses in its global enterprises group of companies. "From a strategic standpoint, what we look for are the basic economic opportunities around a particular project, and in the case of taking gas out of the Rockies, we know there is going to be a lot of drilling there and that of all the places in North America that is where production is likely to grow, and we know there is a need for pipelines there.

"We see the Rockies project pretty much in the terms of looking at the larger economic forces and building to take advantage of the opportunities that are afforded to us," Schmale said.

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