Freeport LNG chief does drastic U-turn on Chinese investor claims

San Francisco: The head of one of America’s leading prospective LNG (liquefied natural gas) export terminals on Friday backed off a claim that the US government leant on the industry to shun Chinese investors.

In his initial comment chief executive of Freeport LNG, Michael Smith, had accused the Department of Energy of letting LNG export facilities know that it would be frowned on if they allowed Chinese investors.

The apparent reason was politics with fears rife of a US resource perceived as being under China’s control.

Freeport LNG is an LNG export project on the Texas coast and it aims to supply customers in Asia starting in 2018. It is one of several US sites where LNG processing and export plants are being built in anticipation of a boom in demand worldwide.

In his original claim Smith said: “We were advised by the DOE to be careful who our customers were, because this is very political.”

One of the curiosities as America has ramped up its ability to send LNG overseas is that firms from China, a glaringly obvious customer, have hardly been involved in any deals so far.

But then, within a matter of hours, Smith backtracked drastically from his contentious claim, saying he had misspoken.

“In no way” did the DoE pressure Freeport LNG against having Chinese investors or customers, Smith said. “I regret having inaccurately described the DOE as having advised us as such.”

A DoE spokeswoman on Friday said it never advised Freeport or any LNG company against dealing with China or Chinese firms.


Donal Scully

With 28 years experience writing and editing for newspapers in the UK and Hong Kong, Donal is now based in California from where he covers the Americas for Splash as well as ensuring the site is loaded through the Western Hemisphere timezone.
Back to top button