Cheniere hopes to be first LNG exporter in U.S.

Cheniere hopes to be first LNG exporter in U.S.
(Source: Erica Bivens/KPLC)
(Source: Erica Bivens/KPLC)

CAMERON, LA (KPLC) - Cheniere Energy hopes to become the first LNG exporter in the continental U.S. with their Sabine Pass Liquefaction Project.

While global natural gas demand is growing, so is this expansion project.

Officials say the purpose is to transform the facility into a bi-directional one, meaning they can export natural gas, in addition to importing it.

Cheniere's CEO along with Senator David Vitter held a press conference Wednesday where reporters got a site tour and heard about some of the impacts it will have in SWLA, namely jobs.

"I think it's the biggest jobs game changer in my lifetime," said Sen. Vitter.

Both he and Cheniere's CEO, Charif Souki, held a press conference Wednesday on the Sabine Pass Liquefaction Project.

"To put it in perspective, when we finish, it will be a $20 billion investment in SWLA," said Souki.

Officials say they're about 16 months into construction of the facility.

"We are going to build a total of four trains, that have already been permitted, and another two trains are in the permitting process now. We have customers for 75% of the facility," added Souki.

A facility tour revealed some 2,500 people are working on the expansion site now, but that number is about to double.

Souki says, "We will peak this summer over 4,000 people, probably close to 4,500 and will be there for the next five years."

But that's not all. Souki says, when they deliver all six trains, "we will support 30 to 40,000 upstream jobs in order to be able to provide the gas that is necessary for the operation of the plants."

That means a wide-variety of jobs like pipe-fitters, welders, carpenters and much more need to be filled.

And in terms of when people will be able to take advantage of these new jobs, officials say now.

Darron Granger, Senior Vice President of Engineering and Construction says they're, "struggling daily to try to find more people."

"This is a perfect example of the single most important and promising engine for job creation in the country," said Sen. Vitter.

In fact, they're increasing by 250 people per month.

"This cheap, reliable, American natural gas and oil is a game changer. And it's such an exciting game changer and it yields so much possibility for the country and Louisiana," said Sen. Vitter.

Cheniere's CEO says Sen. Vitter has been very supportive of the project from its inception and they wanted to show him where they're at today.

Now, $5 billion has already been spent on the project in the last 18 months. And they estimate the first liquefaction train will be operational in 2015.

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