Vietnamese state-owned energy company PetroVietnam and US-based ExxonMobil have agreed to develop Vietnam’s largest natural gas project for power generation.

The agreement was signed on Friday by PetroVietnam subsidiary PetroVietnam Exploration Production Corporation (PVEC) and ExxonMobil’s Vietnamese business unit during US Secretary of State John Kerry’s visit to Vietnam. 

The $10bn Ca Voi Xanh (Blue Whale) gas project, which is planned to begin producing gas for power production by 2023, will develop a gas field around 80 km off the coast of the central Quang Nam province. 

The gas field is estimated to hold around 150 billion cubic metres of reserves, or around three times that of the nation’s current largest gas project. PVEC has said it could eventually fuel four gas-fired power plants with a total capacity of 3 GW, while a planned expansion phase could provide enough gas for an additional 5750 MW plant. 

Under the agreement, ExxonMobil is to build an 88 km pipeline to connect the gas field to shore, while PetroVietnam will build a gas treatment plant and a power plant.

In a statement, ExxonMobil called the project “an important natural gas discovery in Vietnam that has the potential to fuel the country’s economic growth”.

PetroVietnam has said the project will generate around $20bn for Vietnam’s coffers.