TEHRAN (Commodity Online) : In its quest to acquire more energy, world's second largest oil consumer China is exploring a $1.2 billion deal with Iran to build six tankers in the coming years to transport liquefied natural gas.

According to reports, each LNG tanker was worth around $200 million and the project, would likely be carried out within three years.

Iran is looking for export routes for its rich natural gas reserves in the face of tighter sanctions over its controversial nuclear program.

LNG shipments are less politically sensitive than conventional natural gas pipelines. Iran could begin preparations for LNG exports as early as 2012.

China in 2009 signed a $3.35 billion deal with Iran for LNG production from the giant South Pars gas complex in the Persian Gulf, the largest in the world.