A group including local politicians, business and community leaders, and Jefferson County sheriff’s deputies welcomed the consul general of Qatar, Faisal Abdulla Al-Henzab, to the ranch of former Jefferson County judge and business consultant Carl Griffith on Friday, May 17, to celebrate the blooming friendship and business relationship between Qatar and Jefferson County.
According to The World Factbook from the CIA, the sovereign Arab state of Qatar has established itself one of the richest nations in the world. As of 2007, oil and natural gas revenues had enabled Qatar to attain the highest per capita income in the world.
Now, the nation of Qatar and Qatar Petroleum International have developed a business relationship and mutually beneficial friendship with Jefferson County due to the Golden Pass expansion project currently in development. A final investment decision will be made following government and regulatory approvals. The proposed project, which involves development of natural gas liquefaction and export capabilities at the existing Golden Pass LNG facility, is a partnership of Qatar Petroleum International and ExxonMobil affiliates.
If developed, the project would represent about $10 billion of investment on the U.S. Gulf Coast, generating billions of dollars of economic growth at local, state and national levels and millions of dollars in taxes to the local, state and federal governments. The project would generate approximately 9,000 construction jobs over the five years estimated to complete the endeavor, with peak construction employment reaching about 3,000 jobs. The new project’s estimated send-out capacity would be about 15.6 million tons of liquefied natural gas per year.
Since last year, the company has taken steps toward realization of the project. According to a press release from Golden Pass, on May 17 the company announced it has submitted a formal request to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) to initiate pre-filing for the proposed liquefaction project at the world-class Golden Pass LNG terminal facility in Sabine Pass.
This milestone sets the stage for the necessary permitting activity associated with the design, environmental impact, and construction of the proposed project.
Earlier this month, Golden Pass Products announced the signing of a Commercial Framework Agreement to sell up to the full 15.6 million metric tons of annual output, and provide shipping and sales opportunities to existing and new markets, including leveraging the sponsors’ long-term arrangements for international imports via the United Kingdom’s South Hook facility.
Golden Pass Products has received U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) authorization for exports to Free-Trade Agreement (FTA) countries, and is awaiting DOE approval to export to non-FTA nations.
“I am visiting the county out of appreciation for the shared business venture and opportunities afforded by the Golden Pass project,” Consul General Al-Henzab, who is based out of Houston, said in an interview. “We really appreciate the county officials for joining us today and Judge Carl Griffith for his commitment and help in securing the site.”
Griffith welcomed guests to his ranch home in Jefferson County and served a delightful southern-style meal complete with catfish, chicken, steak, boudain balls and more catered by PJ Jones Catering Company.
Jefferson County Judge Jeff Branick, who has been a supporter and promoter of the Golden Pass expansion project, was at the ranch and addressed the consul general and those gathered at the event.
“I am just extremely excited that you are here today,” Branick said to the Qatari representative. “We do welcome you to Jefferson County. … We’re extremely excited about your project. Of course, we think Jefferson County is a natural fit for this project. … This represents a major investment in our area. I want to thank Judge Griffith for having you out today and serving us all this fine food. We are looking forward to getting approval. I am looking forward to the groundbreaking.”
After lunch, Griffith presented Al-Henzab and Jabor Al Mesallau, Qatar Gas representative and member of the Golden Pass LNG board of managers who accompanied the consul general, with cowboy hats in honor of their visit to Jefferson County. The consul general then presented Griffith with a golden ship representative of the Golden Pass expansion effort and the friendship that continues to blossom between Qatar and Jefferson County.
According to Golden Pass LNG Terminal LLC vice president of human resources and public affairs Robert Bilnoski, the project would not have been possible without the efforts of Griffith and numerous other supporters in the community.
“Carl Griffith has been instrumental in getting us to break ground,” Bilnoski asserted. “We’re trying to get this baby moving!”
Bilnoski said the former Jefferson County judge worked with the Qatari consulate and invested businesses while serving as county judge and continued his diplomatic and business efforts after he left the office. Bilnoski and Griffith both said since current Jefferson County Judge Branick took office, he too has worked diligently to see the expansion project come to fruition.
“Judge Branick has been super working with the county on this,” Griffith said. “It takes three votes to pass a measure (at Jefferson County Commissioners Court), and he and the county commissioners are supporting this 100 percent.”