LNG Capacity Growth a Proven Model for Energy Transition, Says Bechtel CEO 

As energy buyers and governments across the world try to balance climate goals and energy security during a period of high volatility, Bechtel Corp. CEO Brendan Bechtel said the growth of the LNG industry should serve as a model for how energy infrastructure investments can tackle multiple challenges at once.

Virginia-based Bechtel has secured contracts to design and build the liquefaction equipment responsible for producing around one-third of the world’s liquefied natural gas capacity. Since 2018, Bechtel has completed 17 LNG trains, most of which have been large-scale projects, Bechtel said during a panel at CERAWeek by S&P Global.

He said the build out of LNG infrastructure, especially in the United States over the last several years, is an example of how building from mature, scalable energy technologies and collaboration by engineering firms and project developers bridge the gap between decarbonization goals and energy security.

“Early engagement and collaboration with your supply chain is important so that we can be getting ready and making the investments for the future,” Bechtel said. “We need to learn your technology to develop the right expertise to be ready when you’re ready to hit the go button.”

The company is involved in several Gulf Coast projects in early development or currently under construction that, within the decade, are expected to be some of the largest additions to global LNG capacity 

For example, the firm has been contracted by Sempra Infrastructure for the first phase of Port Arthur LNG near Houston. It also is in a competitive design process to expand Sempra’s Cameron LNG facility in Louisiana. 

Bechtel also was recently tapped to perform the preliminary design for an expansion of Cheniere Energy Inc.’s Sabine Pass LNG facility. Cheniere also signed an engineering, procurement and construction contract with Bechtel last year for the third phase expansion of its Corpus Christi LNG facility in South Texas.

The CEO said the surge of activity on the Gulf Coast also brings its share of challenges. The firm is balancing a tight labor market and projections of rising labor costs through 2024.

“We have to be realistic,” he said. “But it makes the case that if you want to do something big at scale and speed, you have to engage early and engage in a collaborative way.”

As large-scale LNG projects have come online, Bechtel said the additional volumes hitting global markets have helped offset and incentivize retiring coal-fired generation.

Companies are investing in technologies including hydrogen or ammonia, he added. However, existing tools such as LNG may serve as a bridge to net-zero emissions considered essential to ensuring energy global security.

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Author: Jacob Dick