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Webber Research: Venture Global Calcasieu Pass LNG & Implications For Plaquemines – Project Update (H122)


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Webber Research: LNG Weekly 09.07.21

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W|EPC: Commonwealth LNG Project Update, Comps, & Due Diligence Questions Q121

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W|EPC: Objections To Venture Global’s Storage Tank Design

Venture Global –  PHMSA Objects to Calcasieu Pass LNG’s Storage Tank Design

  • A day after Venture Global successfully raised the first LNG storage tank roof
    (4/27/20) at its Calcasieu Pass LNG facility, PHMSA issued a memo (4/25/20) to
    FERC objecting to the LNG storage tank design, citing non-compliance with the
    National Fire Protection Association (NFPA 59A).
  • LNG storage tanks must be designed and constructed to meet several regulations
    and codes, including NFPA 59A.
  • The timing of PHMSA’s objection is notable since the tank design should
    have been approved by PHMSA & FERC prior to the start of construction.

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W|EPC: Sempra’s Costa Azul – Is ECA Different? A Deep Dive Into SRE’s Mighty Mouse

Sempra LNG’s Costa Azul – Analysis & Risks As Larger Projects Falter

  • Overview                                                                            Pages 1-3
  • ECA Phase 1 & 2 Structures                                            Pages 3-4
  • Supply Dynamics & Feedstock Analysis                       Pages 6-7
  • Sempra LNG Commercial Arrangements                    Pages 8-9
  • EPC Analysis
    • Project History & Dynamics                                    Pages 9-10
    • TechnipFMC – Historical Execution Details         Pages 10-12
    • Site Issues With Modularization                            Pages 12-13
    • Independent Site & Schedule Analysis                Pages 13-17
    • Project Cost Analysis & Major Risks                      Pages 18-26
  • Shipping, Midstream                                                        Pages 27-28
  • Management Questions                                                  Pages 29-30
  • Conclusions                                                                        Pages 30-31

Mighty Mouse? Sempra’s (SRE) Costa Azul LNG (ECA, 2.4mtpa Phase-1) might be the only North American LNG project with a realistic chance at FID in 2020. As we saw last cycle, being small (and cheap) can be an advantage in difficult markets. As we note below, we’ve included our key takeaways around 1) Project viability in the current environment, 2) Site & Permitting Issues, 3) our independent project timeline & cost estimates, and 4) our Independent assessment of ECA’s project economics. 

Background: Energía Costa Azul (ECA) is a 1 BCF/d LNG import terminal located north of Ensenada, Baja California, Mexico, ~31 miles south of the U.S./Mexican border (San Diego-Tijuana). It’s owned by Infrastructura Energetic Nova (IEnova), one of the largest natural gas infrastructure developers in Mexico, and is listed on the Mexican Stock Exchange (BMV: IENOVA). Sempra Energy owns 66.43% of IEnova.
Existing Infrastructure: The current ECA import terminal (Figure 1) includes the following infrastructure: (1) a marine berth and breakwater; (2) two 160,000 m3 LNG tanks; and (3) LNG vaporizers, nitrogen injection systems, and pipeline interconnections. Similar to some existing U.S. exporters and brownfield projects, ECA will be turning their facilities around to export LNG.

Permitting: ECA has received most of the major Mexico and U.S. permits needed to begin construction, but still lacks a key Mexican land-use permit. ECA LNG is not subject to FERC review under the National Gas Act (NGA) or National Environmental Policy Agency (NEPA). However, ECA is subject to various Mexican state and federal regulatory agencies, such as the Secretaris de Medio Ambiente y Recursos Naturales/ Ministry of Environmental and Natural Resources (SEMARNAT) and the Agencia Nacional de Seguridad Industrial y de Proteccion al Medio Ambiente del Sector Hidrocarburos/ National Agency for Industrial Security and Environmental Protection for the Hydrocarbon Industry (ASEA), as well as the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE).…continued
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Venture Global LNG: Costs Ramping At Calcasieu?

Headcount, Parking Data Suggest Material EPC Inflation

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  • Construction Details:                                                           Pages 1-2
  • Parking & Headcount estimates                                        Pages 2-3
  • Previous CPLNG Cost Curve                                               Page 3
  • Our New CPLNG Labor Cost Estimates                           Page 3 
  • EPC Costs – Expanded                                                         Page 4
  • Key Questions From Here                                                   Pages 4-5

Forcasted Ramp In Craft Labor Headcount Indicate Costs Likely Trending Above Plan. Recent filings indicate that Calcasieu Pass LNG’s (CPLNG) average on-site workforce is set to more than double compared to company Pre-FID plans, while also introducing a night-shift. While there are likely several variables in play here, we believe the data (analyzed in the pages that follow), suggests that CPLNG’s on-site craft labor costs could increase materially……(data and our estimates on pages 2-5).

Parking Lot Infrastructure: In addition to the craft labor increases, there’s usually an increase in both indirect construction support infrastructure and the associated cost for that infrastructure. An example of this phenomenon is the reported increases by CPLNG in parking lot infrastructure. While not usually top-of-mind, ancillary factors like parking carry a real cost for projects this large, and significant increase in parking requirements would be felt in a projects budget. This same correlation is true for other indirect costs like lunch tents, lavatories, office spaces, personal protective equipment, health & safety supervision, small tools and consumables, radios and other IT equipment, trash removal, security, craft training, and on and on. That trend in data over the past year shows….(continued on pages 2-3).

While there could be several explanations for the ramp in labor (too many to list within a single note), if we were stakeholders we’d want to understand what’s actually driving the ramp in labor, and how any associated overrun in direct and indirect costs are being accounted for by CPLNG. While our cost overrun estimate (pages 2-3) is just that – an estimate – we’re confident the
fundamental relationship between labor head count and project costs have us pointed in the right direction.
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