Cheniere Winning the Natural Gas Race


Jim Jubak Image Jim Jubak Founder and Editor,

Despite being the tortoise whose export plant won't be ready for nearly three years, continued delays and cost overruns at Australian competitors makes Cheniere's US-based assets ever more attractive, writes MoneyShow's Jim Jubak, also of Jubak's Picks.

The news out of Australia’s natural gas industry is truly depressing—for Australia’s natural gas industry.

But that bad news is actually extremely positive for Cheniere Energy (LNG), the US company that remains on schedule to have the first liquefied natural gas plant certified to export cheap US gas up and running by 2015.

The problem for Australia’s natural gas industry, as it is for Australia’s coal industry right now, is cost. The country has so many liquefied natural gas projects under construction that it could take over the top spot from Qatar as the world’s biggest exporter of liquefied natural gas within the next five years.

That’s if all these plants can be built on time and at a reasonable cost. So far, the track record isn’t good.

The first round of liquefied natural gas projects have all seen huge cost overruns and delays. And the problem looks like it will get worse in a second wave of projects and project extensions, budgeted at an estimated $160 billion.

The big immediate worry is that sometime in the next couple of weeks, Chevron (CVX), the developer on the huge Gorgon off-shore development, will report that the budget for the 15 million metric ton a year project off Australia’s northwest coast has climbed by another $20.8 billion, to a total of $62.6 billion.

In a recent speech to the Australian Institute of Energy, David Knox, CEO of Australian oil and natural gas producer Santos (STO in Sydney) said that it cost three times as much to develop a projection in Australia than on the US Gulf Coast, and that the problem was getting worse.


Which, of course, is good news for Cheniere, which is developing the first US liquefied natural gas terminal licensed for export at its Sabine Pass site in Louisiana.