Exclusive: Oil price crash claims first U.S. LNG project casualty

Wed Dec 31, 2014 6:11am EST
 
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By Oleg Vukmanovic

MILAN (Reuters) - Excelerate Energy's Texan liquefied natural gas terminal plan has become the first victim of an oil price slump threatening the economics of U.S. LNG export projects.

A halving in the oil price since June has upended assumptions by developers that cheap U.S. LNG would muscle into high-value Asian energy markets, which relied on oil prices staying high to make the U.S. supply affordable.

The floating 8 million tonne per annum (mtpa) export plant moored at Lavaca Bay, Texas advanced by Houston-based Excelerate has been put on hold, according to regulatory filings obtained by Reuters.

The project was initially due to begin exports in 2018.

Excelerate's move bodes ill for thirteen other U.S. LNG projects, which have also not signed up enough international buyers, to reach a final investment decision (FID). Only Cheniere's Sabine Pass and Sempra's Cameron LNG projects have hit that milestone.

Back when LNG and crude oil prices were riding high in February, Excelerate, founded by Oklahoma billionaire George Kaiser, applied for permits to build the facility.

Eleven months on, its submission to the U.S. Federal Energy Regulatory Commission on Dec. 23 said that uncertainty generated by a steep decrease in oil prices has forced it to conduct a "strategic reconsideration of the economic value of the project" and to suspend all activities until April 1, 2015.

"Due to the recent global market conditions, the company has determined that, at this time, this project no longer meets the financial criteria necessary in order for us to move forward with the capital investment," a company spokesman told Reuters.   Continued...

 
An offshore oil platform is seen in Huntington Beach, California September 28, 2014.  REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson