SW La. now top exporter of LNG in world

Published 5:46 am Thursday, May 26, 2022

Just as the global economy impacts Southwest Louisiana so, too, does the region affect the world.

“What we do here does not happen in isolation,” R.B. Smith, vice president of business and workforce development for the Southwest Economic Development Alliance, said in speaking to members of the Kiwanis Club of Downtown Lake Charles.

U.S. fuel supplies, including LNG, continue to play a key role in global energy security, particularly due to Russia President Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine. Earlier this month, the Biden administration approved more requests to export U.S. natural gas as it seeks to counteract Russia’s efforts to use the fuel as a weapon against Ukraine’s allies. Now, U.S. gas futures are up about 135 percent year to date.

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“While that’s going on over there in Russia, it’s suddenly put the focus on Southwest Louisiana,” Smith said, adding that in the past decade, the region has completed $45 billion in capital improvements with another $84 billion in announced projects in the pipeline.

Smith said three LNG plants in Southwest Louisiana are fully completed or are nearly completed and are becoming major players on the world’s stage.

“Cheniere LNG at Johnson Bayou has six trains and they’re turning out 28 billion tons of stuff a year with ships going out every day full of natural gas” Smith said. “Cameron LNG in Hackberry, which is a Sempra project, has three trains running and they’re sending out ships every day. Venture Global at Calcasieu Pass at the mouth of the Calcasieu River is pretty much complete and they’re sending out ships every day.”

The three terminals are exporting gas across the world, outpacing Quatar and Australia as the top exporter of LNG.

“Calcasieu and Cameron parishes are exporting more LNG today than any other place in the world,” he said. “And we have more on the way.”

He said a $10 billion investment to build a second Venture Global facility is being planned as is Driftwood LNG in Carlyss near the Intracoastal Waterway and Commonwealth LNG on the Gulf Coast near Cameron.

“More LNG export facilities are being built along the Calcasieu Ship Channel and while we’re already in the lead at the end of the day we will continue to be the global leader in LNG.”

He said the $84 billion in announced upcoming projects is forecast to bring 25,000-30,000 temporary jobs due to construction and about 12,000 permanent jobs in the workforce.