Mitsui & Co. Ltd. plans to increase its exposure to the growing North American liquefied natural gas (LNG) export business, reaching a preliminary agreement to purchase supply from the next phase of Sempra Energy’s Cameron LNG terminal.

In a nonbinding memorandum of understanding (MOU), Mitsui has proposed purchasing up to one-third of the available capacity from Phase 2 of the Cameron LNG facility near Hackberry, LA.

“This agreement signals continued momentum in the growing U.S. LNG export market, while reinforcing the unique competitive advantage that Sempra offers customers seeking LNG export capabilities from the Gulf Coast, as well as the West Coast of North America,” Sempra LNG President Justin Bird said.

Mitsui already owns equity in Cameron LNG, which started commercial operations on Train 1 in August. Rounding out Phase 1 of the project, two additional liquefaction trains are slated for start-up in the first half of next year, with total export capacity projected to reach 12 million metric tons/year (mmty), or about 1.7 Bcf/d.

Cameron LNG Phase 2, which has received all necessary permits from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, proposes two additional liquefaction trains and as many as two additional LNG storage tanks.

Under the MOU, Mitsui would also purchase equity in a future expansion at Sempra’s Energia Costa Azul (ECA) LNG project in Baja California, Mexico. Mitsui would purchase about 1 mmty of offtake capacity from that expansion.

Last November, Mitsui was one of three companies to enter heads of agreements with Sempra subsidiaries to take capacity from Phase 1 of the ECA project. Sempra and Mitsui are in negotiations to finalize a 20-year sales and purchase agreement for 0.8 mmty of LNG from ECA, the companies said Monday.

Also developing the ECA LNG project is Infraestructura Energetica Nova SAB de CV, aka IEnova, Sempra’s subsidiary in Mexico. Phase 1 includes one liquefaction train with a capacity of around 2.4 mmty. Future expansion at the terminal would see the project reach an export capacity of around 12 mmty.

Mitsui’s Motoyasu Nozaki, COO of the Energy Business Unit II, said the MOU represents an expansion of the “strategic relationship with Sempra in a broader range of opportunities.

“This agreement will contribute to expanding Mitsui’s uniquely diversified supply portfolio worldwide by utilizing the strengths and capabilities of both companies,” the executive said.