The first train at Cheniere Energy Inc.’s Corpus Christi natural gas export facility in South Texas began producing the super-chilled fuel early Wednesday morning, spokesman Ray Fohr told NGI.
A liquefied natural gas (LNG) tanker reportedly docked at the Corpus Christi Liquefaction LLC facility over the weekend. Typically, it takes about three weeks after the first LNG is produced for vessels to be loaded and exported. The Corpus plant began producing LNG at 7:30 a.m CT on Wednesday, Fohr said.
Cheniere CEO Jack Fusco and company executives are expected to be joined on Thursday by Texas Gov. Greg Abbott and elected officials to celebrate the facility start up.
On a conference call last week to discuss third quarter earnings, Fusco said commissioning had been “going very well” for Train 1 at the facility, where feed gas was introduced in August and substantial completion is expected to be achieved in early 2019.
The plant is authorized to export LNG worldwide. Earlier this month, the Department of Energy (DOE) approved short-term LNG exports to non-free trade agreement (FTA) countries from the plant after issuing a similar order in September for exports to FTA countries.
Cheniere has to date issued final investment decisions for the first three trains at Corpus Christi. The project is designed to accommodate five trains with expected aggregate nominal production capacity of up to 22.5 million metric tons/year (mmty). On last week’s call, Fusco hinted at possible long-term plans for the Texas project and said he thinks “there's probably another 30 million tons at Corpus that can be built in addition to Train 3.”
Train 5 began producing at Cheniere’s Sabine Pass facility in Louisiana late last month, and it should be substantially completed early next year. In 2016, Cheniere became the first in a wave of U.S. gas export projects when Sabine Pass shipped the first major volumes from the Lower 48.
The Houston-based LNG developer last week secured a 24-year sale and purchase agreement (SPA) with Polish state-owned oil and gas company Polskie Gornictwo Naftowe i Gazownictwo S.A. for 1.45 mmty. Since the end of March, Cheniere also has secured a 25-year SPA with CPC Corp. Taiwan for 2 mmty beginning in 2021, and a 15-year deal with Swiss trader Vitol Inc. for 0.7 mmty beginning this year.
Meanwhile, the second train at Corpus continues to progress on an accelerated schedule, and substantial completion is expected in the second half of next year, according to Fusco. Cheniere also has signed an engineering, procurement and construction contract with Bechtel Oil, Gas and Chemicals, Inc. for the Train 6 expansion at Sabine Pass.
During the third quarter, Cheniere produced and exported 65 LNG cargoes from Sabine Pass and as of Oct. 31, more than 215 cargoes had been produced, loaded and exported from the terminal year-to-date.