Cheniere’s Sabine Pass terminal nearing finish line

10 29, 2014 by Fuel Fix

Along a remote stretch of Louisiana coastline, roseate spoonbills and snowy egrets share the skyline with more than 120 construction cranes.

Every day, 67 buses parade down a two-lane asphalt highway bordered by thickets of river cane and the Sabine River channel.

They crawl past pastel tinted fishing camps to deposit hundreds of welders, machinists and pipe fitters to the construction site of Sabine Pass LNG, slated to become the first in the lower 48 states to ship supercooled gas to hungry markets overseas.

This sprawling mass of stainless steel pipelines and tanks rising from thick stands of marshland is Cheniere Energy’s $18 billion answer the U.S. shale boom, a stark reminder that the domestic drilling renaissance has left an indelible mark on places far away from the gas fields in the Northeast and Midwest.

As companies scramble to announce new plants and expansion projects to capitalize on abundant supplies of cheap, natural gas, Cheniere Energy is nearly finished with the first phase of its liquefaction export terminal.

Work is 76 percent complete on the first two liquefaction trains and 43 percent finished on another two trains, positioning the Houston-based company to meet its timeline begin exporting gas by late next year.

That aggressive timeline puts Cheniere years ahead of its competitors, including Sempra Energy, which last week started construction on a $6 billion LNG export plant in nearby Hackberry, La.

The Sempra project is the only other LNG export plant to begin construction, breaking ground on the project last week. Freeport LNG is expected to break ground on its first two liquefaction trains in Quintana Island, Texas in November although the company has yet to announce a final investment decision in the project.

While those large-scale construction projects will require the same sort of highly skills laborers Cheniere has been employing to piece together it’s Sabine Pass plant, company officials say they don’t expect those projects to interfere with their plans.