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Cheniere: We won't compete with Russia

U.S.-based Cheniere Energy doesn't believe it will become Europe's leading liquefied natural gas (LNG) player despite bullish export plans.

The company, headquartered in Houston, is at the forefront of what is being called a U.S. energy renaissance with plans to churn out its first batch of LNG for overseas shipments in the next few months.

Charif Souki, Tellurian
Adam Jeffery | CNBC
Charif Souki, Tellurian

Export production volumes at its Sabine Pass export terminal are expected at 27 million metric tons per year (mmtpy), a number set to rise to 60 mmtpy by 2025. That's sparked market talk of whether Cheniere could overcome Russia to become Europe's leading supplier once it begins exporting to the region. Gazprom, Russian state-owned company, currently supplies more than 30 percent of Europe's gas.

But CEO Charif Souki remains cautious, for now.

"Russian gas will still be the dominant player in Europe," he said at the Singapore International Energy Week conference on Monday.

"Cheniere's entry into Europe won't dent [LNG] prices there…I don't see us as price makers."

But European nations are already courting Cheniere in an attempt to wean themselves off Russian supply. Earlier this month, Lithuania's Energy Minister Rokas Masiulis announced it was in talks with the U.S. firm regarding potential imports.


"We would love to have U.S. cargo in our region to have competition with Gazprom. But of course negotiations will depend on price terms," Masiulis told Reuters.

Cheniere's shipments are likely to start in January, with natural gas supplies due to arrive at its LNG plant later this year, Souki said on Monday.

Current U.S. natural gas supply is "almost beyond comprehension," and as national exports get underway, the U.S. will join Australia and Qatar as the world's leading suppliers in the international market by the end of the decade, he continued.

He added that he's also prepared to send an LNG shipment to a hub in Asia next year to support the start of a trading hub.