July 30 (Reuters) - Cheniere Energy Partners LP
approved investment plans for the start of a $5 billion U.S.
liquefied natural gas export project, which it says could come
online in 2015.
Cheniere announced on Monday the board's final investment
decision for the first two liquefaction processing units, called
'trains', in Sabine Pass, Louisiana, which will turn the gas
into liquid. The deal is subject only to the closing of the
Cheniere said on Monday it expects to fund the project with
about $2 billion of equity and $3.6 billion of debt. Units of
Blackstone Group are buying $1.5 billion of Cheniere
Partners' Class B units, while Cheniere Energy Inc will
buy the rest.
A $3.6 billion bank credit facility will be held by a
syndicate of 11 joint lead arranger banks and additional banks
and financial institutions.
Houston-based Cheniere Partners said it would issue a full
notice to proceed to Bechel, an engineering company, which will
build the two trains once the equity funding is in place.
The first train is expected to start operating as early as
2015, with the second due to start six to nine months later.
Cheniere received regulatory approval in April to build the
Louisiana facility. It will be the first project of its kind in
the United States in nearly 50 years and comes as domestic gas
production hits record highs thanks to prolific output from
shale deposits across the country.
The company has firm supply deals with South Korea's
state-owned gas buyer KOGAS, Britain's BG Group
, India's GAIL and Spain's Gas Natural Fenosa