11 Japanese banks have signed a US$2.5bn project financing (PXF) agreement with Cameron LNG, a natural gas liquefaction and export project in the US.

The financing will contribute to the development, construction and operation of the project as part of an agreement to sell liquefied natural gas (LNG) to Japanese utility companies. Nippon Export and Investment Insurance (Nexi), the Japanese ECA, will guarantee the PXF.

The participating banks are the Japan Bank for International Co-operation (Jbic), the Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi, Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation (SMBC), Mizuho Bank, Sumitomo Mitsui Trust Bank, Mitsubishi UFJ Trust, the Norinchukin Bank, Shinsei Bank, Aozora Bank, Shinkin Central Bank, The Chiba Bank and the Shizuoka Bank.

Based in Louisiana, Cameron LNG is part-owned by Mitsui, Mitsubishi Corporation and Nippon Yusen Kabushiki Kaisha (NYK), the Japanese shipping company, as well as US energy company Sempra and French firm GDF Suez.

The total cost of the Cameron LNG project is thought to be US$10bn, and “represents one of the largest project financings in the US,” according to Sempra president Octavio Simoes. When completed, the project will have three LNG trains, with a reported total export capability of 12 million tonnes per year of LNG. Construction on the project’s final stage is expected to start this year and full operations are reportedly due to commence in 2018.

“These commitments from our project sponsors and international banks put us one step closer to delivering domestic natural gas to America’s trading partners in Europe and Japan,” says Simoes.

This is reportedly the first US project to export LNG to Japan as part of a long-term arrangement.

As part of the country’s strategic energy plan set out by the government in April this year, Japan has been looking to diversify its LNG procurement sources. LNG currently represents around 40% of Japan’s power energy mix, and the government has looked to secure a more stable supply of the resource since existing supplies were threatened by the 2011 earthquake off Japan’s east coast.