Berkshire Hathaway takes control of LNG facility as Buffett ups bet on energy infrastructure

Warren Buffett ahead of the Berkshire Hathaway Annual Shareholder's Meeting in Omaha, NE.
David A. Grogan | CNBC

Berkshire Hathaway Energy has agreed to purchase a 50% stake in the Cove Point liquefied natural gas facility for $3.3 billion in cash.

Warren Buffett's big energy and utility division bought the stake from Dominion Energy and will now own a 75% limited partnership stake in Cove Point LNG located in Lusby, Maryland. A subsidiary of Brookfield Infrastructure Partners holds the remaining 25% .

While the deal, which was announced Monday, isn't large in size for Berkshire, it builds on a growing bet on energy infrastructure at the conglomerate as it gains control of one of the rare functional facilities in the U.S. that can export LNG.

"It builds on their long-term theme of energy resources becoming more valuable and ownership of one of only a few US LNG exporters," said Bill Stone, chief investment officer at Glenview Trust and a Berkshire shareholder.

The Cove Point LNG Terminal has a storage capacity of 14.6 billion cubic feet and a daily send-out capacity of 1.8 billion cubic feet. The firm has a long-term contract with Sumitomo Corp., a Japanese trading company that Buffett also invested in.

Berkshire Hathaway first bought a stake in Dominion's gas pipeline and storage assets for $4 billion in 2020. Greg Abel, Berkshire Hathaway Energy's chairman and former CEO, previously told CNBC the deal in 2020 was made through a strong relationship he had with the prior Dominion CEO Tom Farrell.

Abel is now vice chairman for noninsurance operations at Berkshire Hathaway and the successor to the 92-year-old "Oracle of Omaha." Buffett said Abel has taken on many of the responsibilities at the conglomerate.

In 2022, Berkshire proposed spending nearly $4 billion to help generate more wind and solar power in Iowa. At the same time, the conglomerate has been dramatically increasing its exposure to two traditional energy companies — Occidental Petroleum and Chevron

"Buffett has liked pipelines for a long time, given their toll bridge-type revenues rather than pure commodity exposure, and this is likely similar," Stone said. "Natural gas prices are down a ton, but I think most of these exporters work on long-term take or pay contracts."

Natural gas futures have fallen more than 40% this year to $2.709 per million British thermal units.