The newest US exporter of liquefied natural gas has signed a deal to increase exports to Germany, one of a flurry of sales to Europe amid a scramble to replace Russian energy supplies.
Venture Global said on Thursday it would expand a 20-year contract with German utility EnBW by 500,000 tonnes of LNG a year, to 2mn tonnes. US companies have executed about 47mn annual tonnes of sale and purchase agreements with various countries this year, according to Webber Research and Advisory.
LNG is a central part of Germany’s plans to cut Russian gas supplies, which accounted for 55 per cent of total imports before Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine. It has recently chartered five specialised vessels that will allow imports by sea.
Until the invasion of Ukraine, Germany was planning to import more fuel from Russia via the Nord Stream 2 pipeline under the Baltic Sea. Those plans have been suspended.
Venture Global’s deal with EnBW is the only long-term LNG contract locked in between Germany and the US. Other German companies — including Uniper and RWE — have signed earlier-stage deals to import US LNG. Venture’s shipments would begin in 2026 from the exporter’s planned Plaquemines and CP2 plants in Louisiana.
“We’ve always believed that over time, [US LNG] was what global distribution would trend to in terms of customers around the world building up portfolios,” said Mike Sabel, Venture chief executive. “That’s changed obviously — dramatically — recently because of the invasion.”
Venture Global began operations at its Calcasieu Pass plant in Louisiana earlier this year, bringing the number of US liquefaction facilities — where gas is chilled and loaded on to tankers for export — to seven. Once fully built it will have peak capacity of about 12mn tonnes a year, bringing total US capacity to about 105mn tonnes.
The recent surge in interest in LNG from the US marks a significant reversal of fortune for an industry that just two years ago was facing a crisis over environmental concerns and slack demand.
But it has since benefited from a tight gas market and Moscow’s weaponisation of gas exports in the wake of its invasion of Ukraine, which has forced Europe to look for alternative sources.
“The fundamentals were moving in LNG’s favour prior to the invasion,” said Michael Webber at Webber Research and Advisory, a consultancy. “But it reinforces the strategic significance of US LNG — particularly into Europe.”
Despite the strong demand, the landscape remains competitive. Tellurian, a developer chaired by US LNG pioneer Charif Souki, has struggled to raise funds for its Driftwood export plant near Venture’s facilities in Louisiana. The $25bn project’s future is unclear after two big buyers pulled out last month.
Sabel said the company had been involved in “extremely active negotiations and discussions” over potential deals for the past six to nine months.