Cheniere OKs sixth LNG train

Published 12:23 pm Monday, June 3, 2019

Decision may create

short-term challenges

By Ken Stickney

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Cheniere Energy’s decision to build a sixth LNG train at its Sabine Pass location may create both an economic boon and some challenges for Greater Port Arthur.

Houston-based Cheniere said Monday it had given the OK to build Train No. 6 to Bechtel, its lead contractor, at a cost of $2.5 billion. The unit would start up in 2023.

Cheniere is an international company and the U.S. leader is producing and exporting liquefied natural gas.

While the decision will rachet up the need for construction help, Greater Port Arthur Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Pat Avery said that may create some short-term havoc in the local employment market.

She said it is likely to drive up wages but it may also cause a shift in workforce, as employees move from one company to the next for the lure of better wages.

“As the competition begins for workforce, people will start to leave jobs quickly for even an extra dollar an hour,” Avery said. That could leave some worksites short on help for existing demands.

“Workforce issues will be prominent,” she said. “We’ve got to operate the existing plants.”

Jefferson County Treasurer said while the additional workforce will put pressure on housing needs, he said there would be benefits, too. For example, additional housing — permanent homes or parks for recreational vehicles to accommodate new workers — will be built. That means some churn in the local housing market and it means an influx of new tax dollars.

“Local vendors might be able to benefit from sales of supplies,” said Charlie Hallmark, county treasurer. “People will be spending money here, so we get sales taxes.”

Hallmark, by profession a Realtor, said the housing market is tight and the decision may generate additional residential construction. Contractors and employees have disposable income and spend money for food and other purchases.

It’s hard to measure the local impact, he said, but even to build an RV park can reflect of multimillion-dollar investment.

“All of that goes on our tax base,” he said. “People are making an investment here.”

Avery said organizations like the chambers of commerce, Golden Triangle Business Roundtable and the Texas Association of Businesses may get the word out to other areas of the country, letting people know additional jobs will open.