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King Creole - Can Anyone Challenge Cheniere as the King of U.S. LNG?

U.S. LNG development has seen a resurgence in the post-COVID world, with five projects with a combined 61.1 MMtpa (8.1 Bcf/d) of new LNG export capacity reaching a final investment decision (FID) in the past 18 months and one additional project closing in on that milestone. Five of these six projects are from the “Big Three” of U.S. LNG — Cheniere, Sempra and Venture Global — leading some to wonder if there’s room for anyone else. But while all three companies are big in U.S. LNG and have projects under development, only one is a behemoth. In today’s RBN blog, we continue our look at the pre-FID projects under development by the Big Three, focusing on the king of U.S. LNG, Cheniere.

In Part 1, we took a closer look at the projects under development by Sempra, because at the time, Sempra had the project most likely to take FID next: Cameron Phase 2, a 7-MMtpa (0.93-Bcf/d) expansion of its existing terminal in Louisiana. The expansion includes a fourth train as well as 1 MMtpa (0.13 Bcf/d) of additional capacity from debottlenecking at the existing terminal. The project is being developed in conjunction with existing offtakers, although Sempra has elected to market some of the capacity itself as well. The project is currently completing front-end engineering design (FEED) work, which is expected to be complete later this summer, with an FID following later this year.

Since Part 1 was posted, NextDecade has taken FID on Phase 1 of the Rio Grande LNG project, just a few weeks after announcing a major offtake and equity agreement with TotalEnergies. TotalEnergies took a 17.5% stake in the Rio Grande LNG project and agreed to take 5.4 MMtpa (0.72 Bcf/d) of LNG, functionally selling out the first three trains. NextDecade said at the time it was working on closing out the financing for the project and would take FID by mid-July, which it did with the official announcement and a full notice to proceed issued July 12 to Bechtel, its engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) contractor. The three-train project has a capacity of 17.6 MMtpa (2.3 Bcf/d) and will likely begin operations in 2027. (For more of the project specifics for Rio Grande, see Jump in the Line, Part 4.) Rio Grande is the first U.S. project since Golden Pass took FID in early 2019 to come from outside the Big Three. But Rio Grande is an exception to the current paradigm, not a regime change — every other project that has taken FID post-COVID has come from Cheniere, Sempra and Venture Global, and all three of those companies have projects progressing that are likely to eventually take FID, with Sempra’s Cameron Phase 2 a likely next FID at some point later this year.

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