Cheniere Energy turns first quarterly profit with LNG exports

Exporting liquefied natural gas is officially profitable for the first time, Houston’s Cheniere Energy reported Tuesday.

After becoming the first U.S. company to begin exporting LNG early last year, Cheniere on Tuesday reported its first quarterly profit now that revenue is streaming in regularly.

Cheniere posted a $110 million fourth-quarter profit, compared with a $291 million loss during the same period a year earlier. For all of 2016, Cheniere still reported a $610 million loss, after losing $975 million in 2015.

Cheniere has two of its natural gas liquefaction facilities, called trains, online and producing LNG for export at its Sabine Pass terminal in Louisiana near the Texas border.

“The fourth quarter of 2016 was another milestone quarter for Cheniere, as today we report financial results driven by nearly a full quarter of LNG production from the first two trains at Sabine Pass,” said Jack Fusco, Cheniere’s president and CEO.

Out of six tentatively planned Sabine Pass trains, a third is expected to come online in March, while a fourth is slated for the fall. A fifth is expected to be finished in 2019, while the sixth doesn’t yet have a timeline.

Each train has the capacity to process 4.5 million metric tons of LNG a year.

Cheniere’s Corpus Christi LNG project also is expected to come online in 2019. The first two Corpus trains are about 50 percent complete.