On an otherwise barren strip of the Louisiana coast, a crew of more than 4,000 workers has spent the past two years building what will be the largest supercooling facility for natural gas in the U.S. When it’s finished late next year, Cheniere Energy’s Sabine Pass liquefaction terminal will begin chilling natural gas to -260F so it can be loaded onto tankers and sold to customers in Europe and Asia. It will be the first facility to export natural gas from the contiguous U.S.
The first phase of the Sabine Pass project will cost more than $12 billion and seemed unlikely after Cheniere bet the wrong way on the U.S. natural gas market. In 2008 it spent $2 billion to build an import terminal that quickly became useless when abundant natural gas in the U.S. ended demand for imports, cutting the price from $13 per million BTUs to less than $3 in the U.S.