Houston, 21 August (Argus) — ExxonMobil and Qatar Petroleum are proposing to expand their Golden Pass LNG import terminal on the Texas coast to add natural gas-export capabilities.
The $10bn project will give the plant capacity to ship out 15.6mn t/yr of LNG, utilizing existing tanks, pipelines and other infrastructure at Golden Pass, the joint venture said. New facilities would treat and liquefy gas for export around the world by tankers, giving the companies the flexibility to ship or receive fuel cargoes based on market conditions.
Qatar Petroleum and ExxonMobil built the Golden Pass terminal in a 70:30 partnership to receive LNG from their giant liquefaction trains in Qatar. But the plant took five years to build, and by the time it was commissioned in 2010, the North American shale boom had created a gas glut on the continent.
The Golden Pass expansion project is among more than a dozen proposed LNG export developments in the US and Canada. Cheniere Energy is furthest along in the process, having already received government approvals to export LNG, even to nations that do not have free-trade agreements with the US. Like the Golden Pass partners, Cheniere plans to add export capabilities to an existing export terminal at Sabine Pass, on the Texas-Louisiana border.
ExxonMobil and Qatar Petroleum face a multiyear process to get regulatory approvals, as well as the long process of actually building liquefaction facilities. They at least have the cost advantage of expanding an existing terminal, rather than starting from scratch.
“It's a question of what's going to be most competitive,” ExxonMobil chief executive Rex Tillerson said after the company's annual shareholders' meeting in June. “We think there are going to be a few projects that are most competitive. Not all of them will be.”
Competitiveness will start with being one of the projects that get government approval and financing. US regulators will not likely approve all the liquefaction plants that have been proposed because they will consider energy security and price implications, and exporting too much fuel would drive up domestic gas prices.
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