Cheniere Expects Rising LNG Demand with Vaccine Rollout
Cheniere Energy Inc, the top U.S. liquefied natural gas producer, on Wednesday raised its full-year adjusted earnings forecast, predicting higher demand for the fuel as COVID-19 vaccinations boost economic recovery.
Lockdown measures implemented to curb the pandemic slashed demand for energy and hurt prices for natural gas in 2020. But with economic recovery in Asia, particularly in China, fuel sales have picked up.
Shares rose 1% to $70.37 in midday trading, a more than two-year high.
"We expect continued LNG demand improvements as COVID vaccines are distributed and global economic activity continues to strengthen," Chief Commercial Officer Anatol Feygin said in a webcast with analysts. "We think there are decades and decades of LNG growth ahead of us."
LNG prices in Asia surged to record highs in January due to low stocks, a cold winter, production outages and shipping delays. China has become the world's largest LNG consumer after a 17% rally in demand and is driving market growth, Feygin said.
The refusal of customers to take delivery has largely ceased with expanded margins on U.S. cargoes as gas prices internationally rose, Chief Executive Jack Fusco said.
The recent frigid weather and storm in Texas resulted in no material impact, despite a power outage that took Corpus Christi operations out on Sunday night, Fusco said.
The company worked closely with state and local officials, suppliers and customers to mitigate operational impacts, and its Sabine Pass, Louisiana, plant covered demand from its customers.
Cheniere raised its forecast for adjusted earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) to between $4.1 and $4.4 billion, from its prior estimate of $3.9 and $4.2 billion.
The company expects completion of Corpus Christi train 3 in the coming weeks, and train 6 at Sabine Pass in the second half of 2022.
Cheniere also said it plans to provide greenhouse gas emissions data associated with each LNG cargo to customers beginning in 2022.
(Reporting by Arundhati Sarkar and Sabrina Valle; additional reporting by Scott DiSavino; Editing by Jonathan Oatis and Steve Orlofsky)