CLP says it is close to signing an LNG supply deal worth about US$10 billion and will put pen to paper as soon as the government approves plans to build a receiving terminal. The company says it expects to sign a 20-year deal for about 2.5 million tonnes of gas per year that could begin arriving by 2011. 'The supply market is quite tight,' said Richard Lancaster, CLP's commercial director. 'But with everything going right we should be able to get LNG imports here around 2011 or 2012.' ExxonMobil owns 60 per cent of CLP's Hong Kong generation business. The first phase of Australia's Pluto project by Woodside is due to start by late 2010, although observers say start up could be as late as 2013. Pluto's two Japanese partners will take the majority of the LNG, leaving around one million tonnes of spare capacity that Woodside plans to sell on the open market. CLP may not be the only Chinese company in the market for LNG, as the mainland's new investment flagship, the State Investment Co has bought a small stake in Britain's gas producer BG Group. The People's Bank of China bought a 0.46 per cent stake in BG Group between June 15 and July 13, and the share is thought to be on behalf of the state investment arm and could be another small piece of the mainland's bid to obtain overseas energy assets.