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Total to buy 23% stake in Cheniere founder's Tellurian LNG venture

Total SA said it will buy a 23% stake in Tellurian Investments Inc., the venture started by Cheniere Energy Inc. founder and ex-CEO Charif Souki, to help secure U.S. natural gas supply and deliver LNG from the proposed Driftwood LNG project in Calcasieu Parish, La.

The companies said in a joint statement that the deal is valued at $207 million, or $5.85 a share. "Total's investment materially strengthens Tellurian's position as a large infrastructure development company and is an important milestone in the growth of Tellurian's LNG business, including the Driftwood LNG project in Calcasieu Parish, La.," Tellurian President and CEO Meg Gentle said in the statement. "We look forward to delivering low cost LNG to the global market."

Driftwood LNG LLC received FERC authorization June 6 to enter the commission's prefiling review process, with a formal application expected in March 2017. The project would include 20 modular liquefaction trains, each capable of producing 1.3 million tonnes per annum, for a total production capacity of 26 Mtpa. (FERC docket PF16-6)

Souki started Tellurian with Martin Houston, the former CEO of Parallax Enterprises LLC, after billionaire activist investor Carl Icahn ousted Souki from his role at Cheniere in December 2015.

GE Oil & Gas said in November that the company had invested $25 million in Tellurian. Tellurian said it expects its merger with Magellan Petroleum Corporation to close in the first quarter of 2017. The company had previously expected to close in the fourth quarter.