Cheniere Energy Inc. has requested more time from FERC to build and bring online its planned expansion at the Corpus Christi liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminal in South Texas, citing delays caused by the Covid-19 pandemic. 

Cheniere, one of the largest gas buyers in the country and the nation’s largest LNG exporter, said it needs until June 30, 2027 to bring stage three of the Corpus project online. That’s roughly three years after the date originally authorized when the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission approved the project in 2019. 

“The onset and duration of the Covid-19 pandemic resulted in adverse economic and logistical conditions that slowed commercial progress and precluded” the company “from making a timely final investment decision (FID) on the stage three project in order to meet the current permitted construction deadline,” Cheniere said in its filing. 

Cheniere is aiming to reach FID on stage three next year. FERC has authorized a 60-month construction timeline. The project would add seven midscale liquefaction trains with maximum LNG production capacity of 11.45 million metric tons/year (mmty). FERC also approved the construction of a 21-mile, 42-inch diameter pipeline for the facility and an LNG storage tank. Three liquefaction trains with a 15 mmty capacity are currently operating at the terminal. 

A global supply glut that had plagued the LNG market since about 2018 was made worse early last year when the Covid-19 outbreak cut into energy demand. The weak market made it difficult for LNG suppliers to land the long-term buyers needed to sanction projects. FERC granted similar extensions to the Magnolia LNG project, plans for a fourth train at Freeport LNG and an expansion at Cameron LNG, which all cited the pandemic or weak market conditions. 

The market began to turn a corner late last year and tightened significantly amid historic cold, rebounding demand and supply outages that have pushed prices to record highs this year and brought long-term LNG buyers back to the negotiating table.

Cheniere noted in its filing that it has signed long-term sales and purchase contracts to supply 6 mmty over the last year. The Houston company said it is close to landing all the offtake it needs for the stage three project and expects to soon resume early construction activities that were put on hold last year.