(Adds detail on trade house involvement in LNG, Freeport off-takers)
By Oleg Vukmanovic
LONDON, June 26 (Reuters) - Commodity trader Trafigura purchased more liquefied natural gas (LNG) from the United States on Tuesday, this time from the Freeport project in Texas for 1.5 million tonnes (mt) of supply over three years to underpin trade growth.
Once fringe players, trade houses have deepened their exposure to LNG markets and some, like Trafigura, are moving beyond trading to develop import infrastructure as growing supply attracts new buyers.
The latest deal with Freeport LNG Marketing, a unit of the Freeport LNG project, builds on Trafigura's 15-year LNG deal with the trading arm of U.S. producer Cheniere Energy in January.
Freeport LNG Marketing will deliver the first LNG to Trafigura on July 1, 2020 soon after the completion of the 15 mt/year plant's third production unit, or train, on Quintana Island near Freeport, Texas, Trafigura said.
Supply from Freeport's first train is booked to Japan's Osaka Gas and JERA for 20 years. BP purchased the entirety of Train 2 output.
Off-take from Train 3 goes to SK E&S, Toshiba and now Trafigura.
"We view this as the start of a long-term relationship that will be key in growing our future business," Michael Smith, Chief Executive of Freeport LNG, said.
Hadi Hallouche, Trafigura's head of Oil Asia, said the deal would further enhance security of supply for its LNG customers.
Under the free-on-board terms, Trafigura retains the flexibility to deliver the cargoes anywhere in the world.
Swiss trade houses Vitol, Gunvor, Glencore and Trafigura grabbed a $10 billion share of the rapidly growing LNG business last year, handling roughly 8.5 percent of all supply.
With LNG trading set to balloon as global liquefaction capacity mounts and attracts new players, reconfiguring and diversifying the market, traders stand to further grow their share of the business. (Reporting by Oleg Vukmanovic, editing by Louise Heavens and David Evans)