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Tellurian Signs $7.5 Billion LNG Pact With India’s Petronet

Naureen S. Malik
Tellurian Signs $7.5 Billion LNG Pact With India’s Petronet

(Bloomberg) -- India’s Petronet LNG Ltd. signed a $7.5 billion agreement to buy into Tellurian Inc.s proposed liquefied natural gas terminal in Louisiana in what could potentially be one of the largest foreign investments in the U.S. to ship shale gas abroad.

Petronet will spend $2.5 billion for an 18% equity stake in the $28 billion Driftwood LNG terminal -- the largest outside holding so far in the project -- and negotiate the purchase of 5 million tons of gas per year. The remaining $5 billion of the total will come from a debt commitment, according to Tellurian Chief Executive Officer Meg Gentle.

The memorandum of understanding was announced Saturday. The companies plan to complete the accord by March 31, by which time Tellurian hopes to have signed up partners to enable it to proceed with the project.

“We will sign the document sometime in the first quarter and we will have financing ready to close simultaneously, and then we will begin construction,” Gentle said in a telephone interview. “India is one of the fastest growth markets for LNG and should soon become the second-largest LNG importer.”

The deal, signed in Houston in the presence of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, underscores a record year for the LNG industry, with tens of billions of dollars worth of export projects given the green light. The surge of new supply from America’s trove of shale gas has rendered the once-premium fuel accessible for emerging markets such as India, currently the sixth-largest buyer of U.S. LNG.

“People should not be surprised this came,” said Tellurian co-founder Charif Souki, who also started America’s largest LNG exporter Cheniere Energy Inc. “The United States and India have a significant issue diametrically opposed. We have too much gas that we don’t know what to do with and India needs greater gas, and 1 million tons a time is not going to solve the problem.”

The Petronet deal, the largest by an Indian company in U.S. LNG, comes days after the gas industry’s all-important Gastech conference and coincided with Modi’s visit to Texas. The prime minister appeared at Houston’s NRG Stadium with President Trump on Sunday to address a crowd of more than 50,000 Indian Americans.

“This deal will further help diversify India’s energy supplies,” said Lydia Powell, who runs the Centre for Resources Management at the New Delhi-based Observer Research Foundation think tank. “The U.S. wants to displace Middle East supplies and India is a large market.”

Petronet’s investment is vying to be the largest by a foreign entity with one that Sempra Energy expects to finalize in Texas with Saudi Aramco.

Tellurian expects to finalize the last 4 million tons needed for Driftwood’s first phase with one or two partners in the coming months, Gentle said. Petronet’s share represents about $2 billion in annual fuel sales for the life of Driftwood, she said. Tellurian dropped 0.8% to $8.61 at 10:08 a.m. in New

“It supports the drilling industry and the pipeline industry, and there is going to be an enormous amount of resources,” Souki said.

(Updates share price in penultimate paragraph.)

--With assistance from Kevin Varley, Rahul Satija and Debjit Chakraborty.

To contact the reporter on this story: Naureen S. Malik in New York at nmalik28@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Simon Casey at scasey4@bloomberg.net, James Ludden

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