Cheniere Details Stage Three Expansion

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US liquefaction giant Cheniere Energy has laid out key details of a proposed expansion at its Corpus Christi LNG export facility in South Texas as the company aims to keep pace with crushing global demand.

Cheniere just sanctioned Stage Three, itself an expansion of the original Corpus Christi LNG project, in June of this year. The scheme calls for seven midscale trains producing a combined 10 million tons per year. The new project, dubbed Midscale 8-9, would add two more trains that are “near replicates” of the ones already approved, Cheniere told regulators in a recent filing.

US LNG developers have seen a huge increase in commercial interest this year as global buyers seek alternative supplies following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February; economies re-opening following the Covid-19 pandemic and bigger pushes for decarbonization worldwide are also providing lift.

Cheniere CEO Jack Fusco had previously teased the possibility of an expansion earlier this year as it was dealing with customers who needed supply beyond what Stage Three could provide. Prior to the filing, Cheniere was signing offtake deals with the likes of Equinor and Chevron for supply from additional Corpus Christi capacity.

Project Snapshot

The two trains at Midscale 8-9 would each be capable of producing up to 1.64 million tons per year of LNG, according to the filing with the US Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC).

The project description also calls for a refrigerant storage facility, a 220,000 square meter above-ground storage tank with loading capabilities and an increase in the site’s authorized LNG loading rate.

“The Project will be interconnected with the existing Liquefaction Project and Stage 3 Project facilities, which will require minor modifications for purposes of interconnection and integration of the expansion facilities,” Cheniere told FERC.

Project Timeline

The filing earlier this month kicked off the pre-filing process for Midscale 8-9. Cheniere plans to submit an official application to FERC in February of next year. According to Cheniere’s timeline, authorization is pegged for August 2024, with construction to start in October of that year. In-service is targeted for the second half of 2031.

However, analysts at Tudor Pickering Holt noted that the timeline leans conservative considering Cheniere plans to spend about three years constructing the first two trains at Stage Three. “Assuming approvals are granted by [second-half 2024], in-service for the trains could occur in ”the second half of 2027 or the first half of 2028," the analysts said.

Liquefaction, Corporate Strategy , LNG Demand, LNG Projects
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