US LNG export developers acknowledged Wednesday they need to get more creative in how they go after buyers for their capacity amid strong competition for supply contracts and a continued slowdown in advancing new liquefaction terminals.
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Executives gathered at the CERAWeek by IHS Markit conference in Houston said more infrastructure decisions will have to be made soon or it will impact growth prospects for producers of the feedgas used in the liquefaction process, and also could lead to global shortages around the early to middle part of the next decade.
But with the billions of dollars it costs to build new terminals and buyers still hesitant to sign the big long-term contacts that were traditional just a few years ago, there is a growing sense of urgency in the marketplace about getting more projects going, especially in the US.
Even some established players like Cheniere Energy are feeling the pressure to offer more flexibility and optionality.
"We want to make sure we get our fair share," Cheniere CEO Jack Fusco said during a panel discussion about global gas supply and demand fundamentals.
Hendrik Gordenker, executive chairman of Jera, a joint venture of Tokyo Electric Power and Chubu Electric Power, and as such a major buyer of LNG, said projects around the world, both on the export and import side, are taking too long to get off the ground. "That makes it very difficult to connect the supply of the fuel to demand in the market," Gordenker said.
He also said that gas still faces competition as a fuel source in Asia from coal and, more recently, from renewables, and he noted the big expense of LNG projects.
"There is an optimistic note," Gordenker said. "There have been some improvements in that area."
Jera has a preliminary offtake deal to buy capacity from Pembina Pipeline's proposed Jordan Cove LNG export facility in Oregon. It has yet to make that commitment final, and Gordenker declined to say during a question-and-answer session with reporters when or if it will. He said talks are ongoing related to the project, which has struggled to get regulatory approval and reach sufficient capacity sales deals to be able to advance to a positive final investment decision.
"The agreements we have with them we put in place remain in place," Gordenker said.
Asked if he expects Jordan Cove to be completed, Gordenker said "it's hard to know" what the outcome will be until the regulatory and commercial processes are resolved.
Further pressure on US LNG developers could trickle down to producers of feedgas and, ultimately, even to oil producers, Charif Souki, the founder or LNG developer Tellurian, said at the conference.
The reason, he said, is that the growth in production in prolific oil basins such as the Permian is dependent on the ability to find a place to send the associated gas that is lifted with the oil. LNG projects provide that demand.
"We're now at a point if we don't export our gas, we can't produce our oil," Souki said.