(Reuters) - U.S. liquefied natural gas (LNG) company Cheniere Energy Inc said on Friday it planned to make a final investment decision to build the third liquefaction train at its Corpus Christi LNG export facility in Texas in the next few weeks:
* “We’ve recently announced the bank group arranging the project financing and are working diligently on the process with them in anticipation of being able to make (final investment decision) in the next few weeks,” Cheniere Chief Executive Jack Fusco said about the third train at Corpus Christi in an analyst call after the release of its first-quarter earnings.
* Even before making that final investment decision, the company said it has already achieved the first concrete pour on the Corpus Christi 3.
* Cheniere also said construction of three other 0.7-billion cubic feet per day (bcfd) liquefaction trains was ahead of schedule with Sabine Pass 5 in Louisiana and Corpus Christi 1 expected to enter service in the first half of 2019 and Corpus Christi 2 now expected in the second half of 2019.
* Corpus Christi 2 had been expected in 2020.
* One billion cubic feet is enough gas to fuel about 5 million U.S. homes for a day. * Corpus Christi 3 should keep Cheniere at the front of the pack of companies competing to build the next generation of U.S. LNG terminals to meet potential global LNG supply shortfalls in the early 2020s, analysts have said. * Total U.S. export capacity is expected to rise to 3.9 bcfd by the end of 2018, 8.7 bcfd by the end of 2019 and 10.1 bcfd by the end of 2020 from 3.8 bcfd now, making the country the third biggest LNG exporter by capacity in 2019.
* Cheniere is already the biggest buyer of natural gas in the United States, consuming over 3.1 bcfd, and is on track to become the second biggest LNG operating company by capacity in the world in 2020, behind only Qatar Petroleum, according to data from energy analysts at Wood Mackenzie.
* That represents about 4 percent of total projected U.S. gas production of 81.1 bcfd. [ ]
* Cheniere’s Sabine Pass project was the first big LNG export facility to enter service in the Lower 48 U.S. states in February 2016. The company currently has four 0.7-bcfd liquefaction trains in service at Sabine Pass, one under construction and another, train 6, in development.
Reporting By Scott DiSavino; editing by Phil Berlowitz and Jonathan Oatis