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Producers Ink Deals for a Slice of LNG Profits

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US and Canadian producers are closing more natural gas supply deals tied to overseas fuel prices, potentially changing how LNG is commercialized in the next project wave.

Chesapeake Energy (CHK) and EOG Resources (EOG) are the latest producers to ink contracts with LNG developers providing international price exposure. A review by East Daley Analytics finds over 2.3 Bcf/d of volumes are at stake (see table). Producers in some cases have signed sales and purchase agreements (SPAs) to take LNG volumes, or have agreed to supply gas to other LNG investors based on a global price linkage (see table). As US gas prices languish under $2/MMBtu, these agreements could support profits and higher production down the line.

EOG on February 22 announced an SPA with global energy trader Vitol to supply 180 MMcf/d of gas indexed to Brent crude oil prices for 10 years. At least 140 MMcf/d of the sales will be linked to Brent prices, and the remaining volumes will be indexed to either Brent or US Gulf Coast gas prices. The contract with Vitol begins in 2027.

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Earlier in February, Chesapeake entered a 20-year SPA with Delfin LNG and energy trader Gunvor in support of Delfin’s deepwater project in the Gulf of Mexico. Under the SPA, CHK will buy 0.5 Mtpa of LNG (~65 MMcf/d) from Delfin LNG and deliver it Gunvor for a price linked to the Platts Japan Korea Marker (JKM) used to trade LNG. The volumes represent 0.5 Mtpa of a 2 Mtpa agreement CHK signed last year with Gunvor.

Independent producers have largely been shut out as participants in the LNG export boom. Global utilities and commodity traders have mostly signed up for capacity in US LNG projects and seen the upside (or portfolio protection) when global prices jumped. While LNG exports have expanded US gas demand, most E&Ps see no exposure to higher overseas prices.

That dynamic began to change as Cheniere Energy (LNG) commercialized its Corpus Christi Liquefaction project. Cheniere has used Integrated Production Marketing agreements (IPMs) to sign up producers, including EOG, and take capacity in its Stage 3 expansion at Corpus Christi.

Under the IPMs, producers will supply gas to the Corpus Christi terminal and receive a price indexed to overseas indices, after deducting fixed fees for liquefaction, shipping and regasification fees. Cheniere Marketing owns the LNG and is responsible for selling cargoes abroad.

In 2022, Cheniere amended its IPM with EOG to extend the term and triple volumes in support of the Stage 3 expansion. Under the new agreement, EOG will sell 420 MMcf/d to CCL Stage 3 for 15 years and receive a price pegged to JKM. EOG has another supply agreement to sell 300 MMcf/d to Corpus Christi at a priced indexed to the Henry Hub. EOG will supply a total of 720 MMcf/d following start-up of the Phase 3 midscale expansion. Cheniere is targeting first LNG production from the Stage 3 expansion by YE24.

Cheniere has similar 15-year IPM agreements with Canadian producers ARC Resources and Tourmaline Energy to support Stage 3 at Corpus Christi. Cheniere has also reached an IPM agreement with ARC Resources for its Stage 5 expansion at Sabine Pass. That contract is indexed to the Dutch Title Transfer Facility (TTF) in Europe.

ConocoPhillips (COP) has also entered into a supply and equity agreement with Sempra Energy (SRE) for Port Arthur LNG. COP has agreed to acquire a 30% equity stake in Phase 1 of the LNG facility and will manage feedgas supply requirements. COP and Sempra have also executed a 20-year SPA for 5 Mtpa (~670 MMcf/d) of LNG from Port Arthur Phase 1.

According to CME-reported natural gas futures, TTF is expected to trade more than $6.00/MMBtu higher than Henry Hub this decade, while JKM is priced at a $7.15 premium to the US benchmark (see figure). Other producers will have to follow the lead if they want to be more than just price-takers for the 18 Bcf/d of additional LNG demand expected to come online by the end of 2030, according to East Daley’s Macro Supply and Demand Forecast. – Oren Pilant Tickers: COP, CHK, EOG, LNG, SRE.




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