Cheniere CEO Talks LNG Exports As Trade War Continues

HOUSTON—Looking at a photo of heavy particulate matter clouding the atmosphere in China, Cheniere Energy CEO Jack Fusco recalled how quickly the particles transformed a black Mercedes and other vehicles along the street to the same color.

There were only gray cars in front of the hotel, Fusco said, recounting his stay in Beijing, China, ahead of a trade mission. Speaking during the Texas Oil & Gas Association’s Lone Star Energy Forum on Oct. 22, Fusco explained how the heavy particulate matter was a result of Beijing’s centralized heating system and inefficient, old underground boilers that rely on coal.

“The health risks are immense. So what we’re doing is trying to clean the air in China by delivering natural gas that can displace the coal and the oil that they’re currently using for generation,” said Fusco. “What we’ve been able to do is take their natural gas generation from 6% to 7%. … Their demand in LNG has grown 50% year over year, so the opportunity for us is dramatic.”

So far, Cheniere (AMEX: LNG)—which earlier this year entered two sale and purchase agreements with China National Petroleum Corp. for about 1.2 million tonnes per annum—has delivered more than 50 tankers to China. “We expect that to continue and hopefully grow because we can double the size of Cheniere just with China,” Fusco said. “So that’s been a real focus for us.”

This comes amid an ongoing trade dispute between the U.S. and China. In September, China imposed a 10% tariff on U.S. LNG in response to the Trump administration placing tariffs on Chinese goods.