Thanks to a warm start to the season and low Asian demand for LNG, Europe has so far been able to stave off a worst-case scenario for natural gas supply this winter. Still, the European market is keeping a keen eye on the years ahead, when the continent will need to rely on new sources of LNG to meet demand and refill inventories with little chance of any Russian gas. The call for more LNG has ushered in a new wave of export-project development, with two U.S. projects reaching a positive final investment decision (FID) this year and LNG offtakers in Europe and elsewhere committing to an incredible 37 MMtpa (4.9 Bcf/d) of long-term contracts from pre-FID sites in North America. This momentum has revived a number of projects from the COVID-induced wasteland, including Sempra’s Port Arthur LNG. In today’s RBN blog, we continue our series on U.S. LNG projects by taking a closer look at Port Arthur, the one most likely to take FID next.
So far in this series we’ve looked at four different U.S. projects. Two of them — Plaquemines LNG and Corpus Christi Stage III, the subjects of Part 1 and Part 2 — have both now taken FID. In Part 4, we discussed NextDecade’s Rio Grande LNG, which closed multiple sales and purchase agreements (SPAs) over the summer and has now sold 75% of its Phase 1 capacity. NextDecade, which is still securing offtakers and financing for the project, raised $85 million in September through a private placement equity sale. Although taking perhaps a little longer than expected, the project remains likely to move forward at this point.
If you’re thinking, “Hey, you skipped Part 3,” there’s a reason for that. That blog covered Tellurian’s controversial Driftwood LNG, which at the time had already begun construction despite not having secured full financing. Since then, Tellurian and Driftwood publicly suffered a major setback after losing two of the project’s three offtakers and rescinding a bond offering due to lack of interest. But Tellurian’s drama has more to do with its project structure than the wider LNG market environment, and other projects continue to see support and make progress toward FID, including the project we’re looking at today, Port Arthur, which in the past few months has leap-frogged several other projects in development and is closing in on FID in the next few months.
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