By Naureen S. Malik
(Bloomberg) — Cheniere Energy Inc.’s Sabine Pass terminal, the first complex designed to liquefy and export natural gas from the continental U.S., is being commissioned and is on track to start producing by the end of the year, said Bechtel Corp., the engineering and construction company behind the project.
Bechtel is performing the commissioning work alongside Cheniere, Bechtel Chief Operating Officer Brendan Bechtel said in an interview at Bloomberg’s headquarters in New York Tuesday. Cheniere is planning six liquefaction plants at the terminal in Louisiana. Five have been contracted and are under construction, Cheniere Chief Executive Officer Charif Souki said in August. The first plant was scheduled to come online by the end of 2015.
“We are on track to make LNG around the end of the year, which is what Charif has asked,” Bechtel said, adding that he’ll be visiting the plant this week.
Cheniere is building the export terminal as gas supplies surge out of shale formations. Drillers are using hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling in the fields to reach long- trapped deposits of the heating and power-plant fuel. Domestic gas stockpiles may reach a record by the end of October, according to the Energy Information Administration.
Cheniere didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.
“There’s at least six months of testing and activity,” Bechtel said. “You’re constantly checking everything along the way. We are doing things like turning motors, doing the loop checks, checking the instrumentation.”
The liquefaction process is consistent across the plants that closely held Bechtel is working on, which include Sabine Pass and three LNG projects in Australia, he said. “The complexity that requires each of these plants to be a little bespoke is what you have to do to get the gas that’s coming in,” he said.
The San Francisco-based contractor is also building Cheniere’s Corpus Christi LNG facility in Texas and three projects in Australia, of which the third one will start liquefying gas by the end of the year, according to Bechtel.
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