Global natural gas buyers jostle for US LNG with Chevron, Ineos deals

US LNG is flowing to Europe in record volumes

(Bloomberg) — Global buyers are lining up to secure long-term shipments of liquefied natural gas, giving impetus to a new generation of US projects that will send the heating and power-plant fuel overseas.

US oil giant Chevron Corp. and UK-based chemicals company Ineos Group announced deals for LNG on Wednesday, reflecting soaring demand as countries seek to displace Russian gas. Chevron will buy LNG from export terminals in Louisiana to trade it on the global market. Cheniere Energy Inc., meanwhile, greenlighted the expansion of a terminal in Texas as Europe clamors for more supply.

“Europe’s suddenly insatiable appetite for liquefied natural gas to counteract Russia’s squeezed piped supply and risk of further cuts could drive about 5.5% global LNG trade growth in 2022,” Talon Custer, an analyst at Bloomberg Intelligence, said in a report. “European imports may climb 40% in 2022.”

Chevron struck two 20-year sales and purchase agreements with Venture Global LNG, while Ineos plans to buy multiple cargoes from Sempra terminals in Texas or Louisiana over a similar time frame.

The invasion of Ukraine has roiled the global gas market as buyers rush to lock in long-term LNG contracts, benefiting a new generation of liquefaction projects in America. European gas prices soared earlier this month after an explosion shut the Freeport LNG export terminal in Texas, underscoring the increasing dependence on US cargoes to replace Russian supply.

But the new US projects will take years to start up. Cheniere said Wednesday it had made a final investment decision on the expansion of its Corpus Christi LNG export terminal, which will increase the plant’s production capacity by more than 10 million metric tons a year. The plant was originally supposed to be in commercial service by Nov. 2024 but, at Cheniere’s request, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission handed the company an extension until June 2027.

US LNG is already flowing to Europe in record volumes as prices in the region trump Asian rates. It’s still not sufficient to meet demand, however.

Global consumption of the super-chilled fuel will increase to 444 million tons by 2026 from about 375 million last year, according to researcher BloombergNEF. That growth will be led by Europe, while the supply boost will come from the US, it said.

Ineos, one of Europe’s largest gas users, plans to buy 1.4 million tons of LNG a year from Sempra. Under a preliminary, non-binding deal, Ineos will use the fuel for its own needs and for trading, and said the long-term supply will “help alleviate the structural energy issues” across the region.

The fuel will be delivered from either the proposed Port Arthur LNG Phase 1 development in Texas or the Cameron LNG Phase 2 projects in Louisiana, according to a statement.

Venture Global’s deals with Chevron cover 2 million tons of LNG a year. Supply will come from the Plaquemines LNG facility, which is under construction, and from the CP2 LNG plant, where construction is expected to start in 2023.

Both Sempra and Venture Global have struck other deals in recent months. German utility RWE AG in May agreed to buy LNG from Sempra, while on Tuesday EnBW Energie Baden-Wuerttemberg AG signed a contract with Venture Global.

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