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Cheniere CEO: LNG production imminent at next trains at 2 terminals

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Cheniere CEO: LNG production imminent at next trains at 2 terminals

Cheniere Energy Inc. top executive said the company's next two liquefied natural gas trains are "neck and neck" in a race to start producing the commodity.

Cheniere President, CEO and Director Jack Fusco compared a fifth train at the Sabine Pass LNG export terminal in Louisiana to the first train at the Corpus Christi plant in Texas. Cheniere has said it expects both of the trains to begin producing LNG by the end of the year before starting commercial service in 2019.

"Train 5 at Sabine is in commissioning as we speak — we should be making our first LNG there shortly on that train," Fusco said Oct. 11 at an energy conference hosted by Baker Botts LLP and the Center for Energy Studies at Rice University's Baker Institute for Public Policy in Houston.

"Corpus 1 is about a year ahead of schedule," Fusco continued. "It is also in commissioning. We'll be making LNG shortly. The two are neck and neck to see which one will be first."

Each train will have an LNG production capacity of 4.5 million tonnes per annum, or about 0.7 Bcf/d of gas. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission cleared Cheniere subsidies to introduce feed gas to Corpus Christi Train 1 and Sabine Pass Train 5 in August and September, respectively, for tests of the facilities. And on Oct. 11, FERC granted requests to introduce refrigerants at each train, bringing them closer to producing first LNG.

Four LNG trains are in service at Sabine Pass, the first LNG export terminal to be constructed in the Lower 48. The exporter shipped its first cargo of U.S. LNG from there in February 2016. The company also plans to build a sixth train. The expansion project has regulatory permits, but Cheniere has yet to make a final investment decision, or FID.

"We have one more train to build that's shovel ready, and that will complete our first phase of our construction and operating efforts for the company," Fusco said.

Analysts have watched recent deals by Cheniere to sell LNG for signs of an FID on the sixth train as soon as this year.

The company is building a second 4.5 mtpa train at Corpus Christi, which it expects to complete in the second half of 2019. In May, Cheniere announced an FID for a third train of the same size at the terminal. Construction has begun on that train.

The company expects to also build seven smaller liquefaction trains at the Corpus Christi plant, totaling roughly 10 mtpa. The company asked the FERC to approve the expansion in June. (FERC dockets CP12-507, CP13-552)