• Company keen to talk to developers as it readies first exports
  • South Africa plans 3,126 megawatts of gas-fired power plants

Cheniere Energy Inc., the Texan liquefied natural gas company planning to start exports this year, urged South Africa to consider U.S. supplies as it adds gas to its energy mix.

Cheniere “would be delighted to talk to developers” in South Africa, said Renato Pereira, vice president of origination and marketing for the Americas. U.S. LNG supply “is coming and it’s coming fast.”

The U.S., the world’s largest gas producer last year, is eyeing potential markets for its fuel. Cheniere has been at the forefront of turning the country into an LNG exporter, with the first shipments due in December. That positions the Houston-based company as a possible supplier to South Africa, which is pushing gas as an alternative to coal for power generation.

Cheniere has already contracted its planned capacity of 40 million metric tons a year, yet that doesn’t preclude resale to South Africa, Pereira said Wednesday at a conference in Cape Town. The country will require about 3 million tons a year for its power-generation program, he said.

South Africa’s measures to tackle a power crisis that has curbed economic growth to the slowest pace since 2009 include an invitation to private companies to supply 3,126 megawatts of gas-fired generation. It’s currently discussing ways to price gas imports to ensure they compete with other fuels.

The country could use the U.S. benchmark Henry Hub index in Erath, Louisiana, to price gas, Pereira said.

“This is a good time to be looking at LNG” since competition between global suppliers is “fierce,” he said.

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