Cheniere’s Sabine Pass to ship first cargo later today

HOUSTON — The first cargo of U.S. liquefied natural exported from the lower 48 United States will leave Cheniere Energy’s Sabine Pass plant later Wednesday, a company executive announced.

The shipment signals that the unconventional gas revolution that upended U.S. natural gas markets has now arrived on the global markets. The fuel will be carried to Brazil on the LNG tanker Asia Vision LNG and is expected to be received by Petroleo Brasileiro SA, according to a report by Bloomberg.

Meg Gentle, Cheniere’s president of marketing, made the announcement in comments at the IHS Energy CERAWeek conference in Houston.

“They’re still loading it at Sabine Pass and it’s expected to depart the facility later today as it makes its way to Brazil,” she said.

Gentle called the shipment as among the first steps toward creating a liquid and transparent market for LNG across the globe.

Today, LNG is typically bought and sold under long-term contracts with producers or on small short-term markets at prices linked other fuels. But with a large amount of liquefaction coming online from facilities in the U.S., Australia and others, LNG will increasingly be sold in liquid, short-term markets, Gentle said.

“I’m a believer that by 2020 we will see the industry sell its volumes 50 percent on a short-term basis compared to 30 percent today,” she said. “This will result in greater gas hubs being created.”

Cheniere’s $18 billion Sabine Pass plant is Louisiana’s Cameron Parish. The site can accommodate six liquefaction trains each capable of producing about 4.5 million tons per year of liquefied natural gas.

Sabine Pass’ first train broke ground in August 2012 and processed the LNG loaded onto tanker departing today. Three more trains are far into the construction process and expected to come online at six to nine month intervals. A fifth train broke ground last summer and is due online in 2019.

Cheniere expects to make a final investment decision on a the sixth and final Sabine Pass liquefaction train after it secures financing and shipping agreements, the company said in its earnings announcement last week.