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ENERGY LNG vision takes shape

February 8, 2019

Company leadership for Golden Pass shared more details Thursday about an estimated $10 billion terminal expansion project that would create more than 9,000 jobs during the five-year construction period.

As elected officials and employees gathered under a temporary banquet hall to celebrate Exxon Mobil and Qatar Petroleum’s investment decision in the project, Golden Pass executives highlighted some of the work that has gone into the project so far.

“I can finally tell you we will be one of the largest LNG facilities in North America,” said David Williams, senior project manager. “We have all the infrastructure that is necessary to move 2½ billion standard cubic feet of gas so we can liquify it and send it to the rest of the world.”

Golden Pass is an investment by two companies looking to strengthen their footing and change direction after a slumping oil market, but company executives said the joint venture will also represent the second wave of liquid natural gas in North America.

Robert Bilnoski, vice president of human resources and public affairs, said he felt his company, along with its two shareholders, were in a position to capitalize on the nation’s changing position as a powerhouse exporter of fuel.

“In all my years, 40 years of experience, this is the most exciting period,” Bilnoski said. “The U.S. is in an advantaged role right now, and we have an ample supply of gas.”

Williams said the company’s goal was to connect the company’s 69-mile pipeline not only to the Permian Basin, but to a broader network of gas available from shale fields across Texas and the country.

The company expects the project will have a capacity of about 16 million tons of liquefied natural gas per year, according to a statement.

Golden Pass has predicted the project will create about 9,000 construction jobs over the five-year construction period and more than 200 permanent jobs once the facility opens. If the project gets under way by the first quarter, as projected, Golden Pass thinks the terminal will be open by 2024.

Engineering, procurement and construction contracts were given to a collaboration between Chiyoda International Corp., McDermott International Inc. and Zachry Group.

Bilnoski said the company would set the pace for what its commitment to the community would be by starting with a focus on using local people in construction.

“After this event today, we will be sitting down with all three firms to talk about their plans, but also set expectations to, as much as we possibly can, give priority to local hires and local businesses,” Bilnoski said.

Bilnoski said the more than 200 permanent jobs would run the gamut from technicians trained in work with liquid natural gas to accountants and public relations professionals.

The project could be one of the largest private construction jobs in the region once it is under way, but the Sabine Pass area and other nearby shipping lanes are on the radar of companies other than Golden Pass. Sempra Energy, which recently announced it was a step closer to an LNG facility in Port Arthur, is also constructing a facility in Hackberry, La., just across the border.

Bill McCoy, president of the Port Arthur Chamber of Commerce, said the area was ready with infrastructure and workers to embrace its new role in the world of natural gas export, and the investment by Golden Pass seems to show their agreement.

“This means a successful completion of eight years of hard work for this company, but it also means an indication of the confidence in the economy of Port Arthur and the nation to invest a $10 (billion) to $12 billion facility here,” McCoy said.

McCoy conceded the project would require far more workers and contractors than the Port Arthur area could generate in a tight job market, but the community was ready to train and educate people ready for opportunities.

Exxon Mobil is including the Golden Pass project in its $50 billion Growing the Gulf initiative, which aims to expand manufacturing and add 45,000 U.S. jobs over the next five years.

The company has already established a sales and procurement agreement with Ocean LNG, a natural gas trade operation co-owned by affiliates of Exxon Mobil and Qatar Petroleum. Ocean LNG signed its first supply deal with Centrais Elétricas de Sergipe to sell gas to Brazil by 2020.

The facility expansion is part of Qatar Petroleum’s overall plans to invest about $20 billion in the United States to increase its overseas oil and gas footprint. Qatar announced in December that it would be leaving the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) after the first of the year.

While the country was one of the smallest oil producers in OPEC, it is one of the largest producers of liquefied natural gas in the world.

During an agreement signing in Washington, D.C., on Tuesday, U.S. Secretary of Energy Rick Perry used the Golden Pass agreement as an example of the U.S. strengthening its ties with the country and took an opportunity to call out OPEC.

“Today’s agreement is the latest example of the vital partnership between the U.S. and Qatar — from American universities putting campuses in Qatar, to our strategic military relationship, and of course, our collaboration in the energy sector,” Perry said in a statement. “The Golden Pass project is proof that two of the world’s top energy producers can work together as allies to increase energy diversity, advance energy security, and support rather than subvert an open energy marketplace.”

jacob.dick@beaumontenterprise.com

Twitter.com/jdickjournalism

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