Still seeking the commitments it will need to reach a final investment decision (FID) on its proposed Driftwood liquefied natural gas (LNG) export project, Tellurian Inc. said it has extended negotiations with prospective buyer Petronet LNG Limited of India.

Houston-based Tellurian said it has pushed back the deadline to finalize a transaction with Petronet to May 31, two months later than the March 31 date set out in a September memorandum of understanding (MOU).

Under the MOU India’s largest LNG importer would negotiate to purchase up to 5 million metric tons per year (mmty) of LNG from Driftwood, Tellurian’s massive 27.6 mmty export terminal planned for a site on the west bank of the Calcasieu River, south of Lake Charles, LA. Petronet would also make an equity investment in Driftwood Holdings.

Tellurian said recently that the Driftwood project is “shovel ready,” with construction targeted to start in 2020. But the project has yet to be sanctioned. Amid a challenging environment for second-wave U.S. LNG projects, analysts have been looking for an FID for Driftwood later this year rather than earlier. Weak global prices have created a buyer’s market for LNG, and reports have emerged of canceled U.S.-originated cargoes, feeding concerns that U.S. LNG shut-ins could be in store in 2020.

The coronavirus outbreak has further contributed to the unease, pressuring stock markets and oil prices lower on the prospect of slower global economic activity.

“...The current uncertainty around global commodities demand and the recent coronavirus outbreak is making us increasingly cautious on FID progress,” said analysts at Evercore ISI in a recent note. Evercore noted that Qatar also recently delayed selecting partners and contractors for a North Field LNG expansion project. More than 20 LNG projects are still pending in the United States alone.

If Tellurian seals an agreement with Petronet, it would have only 4 mmty of LNG left to sell. If construction starts this year as planned, the company expects first LNG by 2023.

“Tellurian was in India this week meeting with Petronet and affiliates to progress negotiations, and we are very supportive of Petronet’s process to ensure their robust project review,” Tellurian CEO Meg Gentle said Thursday. “...India is perfectly poised to benefit from strategic project agreements such as Petronet’s equity investment in Driftwood.”