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Cheniere to become the second-largest LNG operator by 2020

According to Judy Clark, Director, Project Engineering, Cheniere, the LNG operator will become the second-largest LNG operator by capacity by 2020. At present, Cheniere accounts for approximately half of US LNG export capacity in operation or under construction. These facts were discussed during the Rice Global Engineering and Construction Forum (RGF) roundtable. Held monthly on the Rice University campus in Houston, Texas, the RGF roundtable discusses the latest challenges and opportunities facing the contracting side of the global engineering and construction industry.

FIG. 1. Ms. Clark provided the luncheon keynote address at the RGF roundtable in August.
FIG. 1. Ms. Clark provided the luncheon keynote address at the RGF roundtable in August.

Ms. Clark’s discussion focused on several challenges that Cheniere faced in developing two LNG sites—Sabine Pass and Corpus Christi—and a sneak peek at the expansion of the Corpus Christi LNG terminal. By 2020, Cheniere expects to have more than 31 MMtpy of LNG capacity operational. This includes five liquefaction trains at Sabine Pass and two liquefaction trains at Corpus Christi. The company is also developing a sixth train at Sabine Pass—FID greenlighted and fully permitted, with a total capacity of 4.5 MMtpy—and a third train at Corpus Christi (completion by 2022), along with an 9.5-MMtpy mid-scale LNG project.

During the construction of Sabine Pass and Corpus Christi, Cheniere faced several engineering and uncontrollable challenges. One of the major challenges was uncontrollable market changes. “When Sabine Pass was built, it was originally set up as an import terminal,” said Mr. Clark, “the onset of US shale gas production completely changed market dynamics for the US LNG industry. This shift led to additional investments in adding new liquefaction trains to the existing facility.”

Additional challenges Cheniere had to overcome at Sabine Pass and Corpus Christi included:

  • Geology/poor soil conditions
  • Multiple waste management units had to be incorporated (e.g., bauxite disposal area, sludge placement area, non-hazardous waste.)
  • Underground distribution piping and other obstacles had to be cleared
  • Drainage improvements were needed
  • Existing pipelines had to be traversed
  • Needed to preserve marine seagrass.


Another major factor was Mother Nature. Both sites were in the path of three hurricanes: Rita, Ike and Harvey. However, neither site succumbed to any major damage. The Corpus Christi site only lost approximately one week of construction time during Hurricane Harvey.

The Corpus Christi site is also being expanded beyond three liquefaction trains. Cheniere plans to begin Phase 3 work (e.g., CCL Stage 3), which includes the construction of seven midscale LNG trains. FID on the project is scheduled for 2020, with operations to begin in 2025. Once completed, Trains 1–7 will have a total capacity of 9.5 MMtpy.

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Editorial Comment: The Future of FLNG: Less is More?
-Adrienne Blume
Global LNG export capacity is expected to increase by 45% between 2017 and 2022, to more than 400 metric MMtpy, with 90% of the new capacity coming from sanctioned projects in the U.S. and Australia. By 2050, this capacity is anticipated to exceed 700 MMtpy. Regasification capacity is anticipated to increase even more sharply.
Executive Viewpoint: Back to production: Where we’re going, we don’t need pipelines
-Mark Casaday
What if a cost-effective way existed to extract and distribute natural gas, regardless of proximity to pipeline, and bring those assets back to production? What if the industry went in a direction that did not need pipelines? For those looking to monetize unproductive natural gas assets or bring unproductive wells back to production, it would be revolutionary.
Regional Focus:Australia to boost LNG exports despite domestic gas shortage
-Eugene Gerden
Australia is planning further increases in LNG production and exports over the next decade, despite quickly depleting reserves and a looming supply shortage in the domestic market.

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