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(Corrects spelling of Total official's surname to Vivier from Didier)
ABIDJAN, Oct 4 (Reuters) - Ivory Coast signed a partnership pact on Tuesday to create a consortium headed by France's Total to build a liquid natural gas (LNG) import terminal that could begin receiving gas shipments by mid-2018.
Ivory Coast has emerged from years of political turmoil to become one of Africa's fastest growing economies and demand for electricity is increasing by 10 percent annually, according to the energy ministry.
"The arrival of LNG in Ivory Coast opens a new era in the production of electricity," Energy Minister Adama Toungara said at a signing ceremony in the commercial capital Abidjan.
Ivory Coast, French-speaking West Africa's largest economy, has the region's most reliable power production sector and exports electricity to its neighbours. However, a lack of new domestic gas discoveries has raised concerns of a supply crunch.
The project aims to conceive, build and operate a floating storage regasification unit (FSRU) with initial capacity of 100 million cubic feet that would gradually be brought up to 500 million cubic feet, according to an energy ministry statement.
The ministry estimated the cost at $200 million.
"We have the intention to bring this project to fruition. You have set ambitious targets," said Laurent Vivier, head of Total's gas division.
Total would be the project's operator. Other members of the consortium include Royal Dutch Shell, Houston-based Endeavor Energy, Ivory Coast state oil company Petroci, CI-Energies, Azerbaijan's SOCAR and Golar LNG.
Total said earlier on Tuesday that the discussions in Ivory Coast were in a preliminary stage.
It has said it plans to invest and finance downstream gas infrastructure especially in countries where there is a growing demand for power. The move could enable it capture new gas buyers.
Ivory Coast's oil ministry said last year that $20 billion in power investment would be needed over the next 15 years to meet demand. (Reporting by Loucoumane Coulibaly; Additional reporting by Bate Felix in Paris; Editing by Joe Bavier/Ruth Pitchford)