Cheniere CEO says project is $20B investment in SW La.

By By Frank DiCesare / American Press

Just one day after he announced his candidacy for governor, Sen. David Vitter, R - La., visited Cheniere’s Sabine Pass LNG plant Wednesday to tour the facility and voice his support for its multi-billion expansion.

“This is a perfect example of the single most important and promising engine for job creation in the country,” he said. “It has nothing to do with me or any other elected official has done or will do. It’s about what we’ve been blessed with by God, the resources we have and what science and engineering has allowed us to access in terms of relatively new technology and procedures.”

Cheniere CEO Charif Souki said Sabine Pass LNG’s expansion will consist of six trains, each of which is expected to produce 5 million tons of LNG a year. Four of which have already received DOE permits, which will allow the company to export LNG to countries with whom the United States has a Free Trade agreement and to non FTA nations. The plant’s other two trains, he added, are in the permitting process with DOE.

Souki added that Cheniere has LNG customers for 75 percent of the facility.

“To put it in perspective when we are finished it will be a $20 billion investment in Southwest Louisiana,” he said. “We have already spent $5 billion over the last 18 months.”

Cheniere currently has 2,500 people working at Sabine Pass LNG and is increasing its construction staff by 250 people a month, Souki said.

We will peak this summer with over 4,000 people, probably closer to 4,500, who will be there for the next five years, he added. “When we develop all six trains, we will support somewhere between 30,000 and 40,000 upstream jobs.”

E. Darron Granger, Cheniere’s senior vice president of engineering and construction, said construction jobs at Sabine Pass are available now. He added that Cheniere’s construction contractor, Bechtel, is struggling to hire new people. “It’s going to be a broad spectrum of people we need from pipefitters to welders to carpenters to equipment operators and the people who maintain the equipment; it’s going to all across the board.”

Cheniere received FERC approval on the Sabine Pass project in April 2012. The facility’s expansion will make it the first of its kind in the contiguous United States capable of exporting natural gas as LNG. The company’s existing import terminal has regasification and send-out capacity of 4 billion cubic feet a day and can store close to 17 billion cubic feet of gas.