By the time Golden Pass Partners decided this month to apply for permits to convert its facility along the intracoastal canal to include the ability to liquefy and export natural gas, its rival across the river Cheniere Energy Partners was almost ready to start construction on converting its facility.
Both Cheniere and Golden Pass planned and built their multi-billion LNG export facilities at a time when experts were warning a serious shortage of natural gas in the United States was imminent. As construction neared completion, new recovery techniques and the discovery of additional deposits of natural gas radically altered the equation.
Cheniere was first out of the gate, moving ahead with the construction of facilities to liquefy and export natural gas in Louisiana, moving the U.S. one step closer to becoming a major exporter of the commodity.
The company said it had given engineering contractor Bechtel Oil, Gas and Chemicals Inc. the green light to start building two liquefaction trains at its Sabine Pass, La., import terminal. Bechtel designated Recon and Bomac as the prime subcontractors, with those three firms and Cheniere officials on hand for the session.
The U.S. exports relatively small quantities of LNG to Japan out of Alaska, but the Sabine Pass facility would be the first terminal to do so out of the lower 48 states. The company has struck long-term agreements with four global buyers to supply over two billion cubic feet a day of natural gas for 20 years.