Cheniere’s new export deal pushes stock past record

HOUSTON — Shares for Houston-based Cheniere Energy gave reached a record high this week after the company announced its first deal to liquefy and ship natural gas from a planned facility in Corpus Christi to Indonesia.

Shares in Cheniere set a record Thursday and then jumped past $44.72 during trading on the New York Stock Exchange on Friday, a dollar more than the previous high of $43.72 set on April 21, 2006. The company’s stock has jumped more than 13 percent this week.

Cheniere owns the Sabine Pass export facility under construction in Louisiana that is slated to be the first to ship U.S. natural gas overseas, but the company’s Corpus Christi project is still a work in progress.

The new contract for the $12 billion Corpus Christi project, announced late Wednesday, was a major milestone for the company. It also had components that were more lucrative than prior liquefied natural gas contracts signed by Cheniere.

In the deal, Pertamina, an Indonesian state-owned energy company, agreed to buy 0.8 million tons per year of liquefied natural gas from the Corpus Christi site. That total is a small fraction of the project’s planned capacity of 13.5 million tons per year.

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As with other contracts signed by Cheniere, Pertamina will pay a fixed rate to reserve the gas liquefaction capacity at Corpus Christi for 20 years, even if it does not actually choose to take its full quota of gas at any given time.

The fixed rate for the contract of $3.50 per million British thermal units was higher than Cheniere’s prior contracts to ship natural gas from Sabine Pass. All of the contracts signed for Sabine Pass so far have had a fixed rate of $3 or less per million British thermal units of liquefaction capacity reserved through the deals.

A variable component of the deal maintained terms similar to prior Cheniere contracts, with Pertamina agreeing to pay a 15-percent premium on any gas that it liquefies and ships.

Cheniere has been attempting to get higher rates for its new contracts to ship gas from Corpus Christi and from an expected expansion at Sabine Pass. But the company is now competing for customers with other projects that have been approved for exports or have been backed by much larger competitors, such as Exxon Mobil.