EDITORIAL — Energy: Good news and more good news

Published 11:00 am Friday, May 24, 2019

Good news travels fast.

Sempra’s and Aramco’s announcement Wednesday about Port Arthur LNG — word arrived in the dead of night — came hours before the Greater Port Arthur Chamber of Commerce’s “Transportation Summit,” a comprehensive report on how people and commerce here may move by land, sea and air in the near future, began. It’s all related.

Here’s the Port Arthur LNG update: Sempra, father to Port Arthur LNG, and Aramco Services, cousins to Motiva Enterprises, made some non-binding agreements. Aramco would buy 5 million tonnes per annum of LNG and would invest some 25 percent in the project, which was once suggested to be in the $8-9 billion investment range but now is just said to be in the billions. Remember the word, “non-binding.”

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It’s no surprise the Saudi company is interested. Aramco is huge and Motiva sits in an area where LNG is booming all around it. A final decision for the site is expected around the end of the year.

Here’s why the news arrived in Port Arthur right on time: Wednesday’s Transportation Summit drew about 80 people with a breadth of transportation needs and concerns, some of which might have been softened by what was said.

The big news in this dominant LNG epicenter was that the Sabine-Neches Waterway deepening project is edging closer toward construction. Improvements would make the channel 48 feet deep rather than 40, allowing larger vessels to enter the waterway, where global export leader Cheniere Energy’s Sabine Pass LNG site rests in Louisiana, across the Sabine. Bigger vessels, bigger profits.

Golden Pass LNG at Sabine Pass has launched work on revising its export site on the waterway — it may be completed in a couple of years — and Sempra is edging ever closer to a decision on their export facility near Sabine Pass.
Speaking for the Sabine-Neches Navigation District at the summit, spokesman Payton Keith said Wednesday that next month district officials will discuss in Washington a partnership with the Corps of Engineers to get construction underway. Construction may take seven to 10 years, so the sooner the better.

Here’s why it’s a great idea: The Sabine Neches Waterway is the largest energy exporter in the country. This waterway is among the top three in exporting crude oil. Tonnage shipped on the waterway is growing at the fastest rate in the U.S. The Permian is hugely profitable and productive and that product is pointed here. The U.S. also has a president who embraces growth in the energy industry.

There’s room to grow — more than at other prosperous sites like Houston and Corpus Christi — and there is great unity among government and industry leaders.

“The outlook for the Sabine-Neches Waterway has never been better,” Keith said.

What’s not to love?


See also: Sempra, Aramco move toward Port Arthur LNG deal