DOE Rejects Repsol's Bid to Reopen Approval for Venture Global LNG Export Plant

(Reuters) — The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) on Tuesday rejected for a second time oil major Repsol SA's request to reopen regulators' approval of Venture Global LNG's Calcasieu Pass export plant in Louisiana.

The decision was cheered by a spokesperson for Venture Global, which is embroiled in contract arbitration cases with several customers over its insistence it does not have to provide contracted cargoes while the plant is undergoing commissioning.

The DOE said Repsol's request was too late and does not determine the operational status of an LNG export project. It says that is up to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), which has authorized the plant to run.

"DOE has no basis to second-guess FERC’s determinations concerning the operational status of the Project," Tuesday's decision said.

Repsol was not immediately available for comment after normal hours.

“We are pleased to see DOE deny Repsol’s inappropriate and unprecedented request, reaffirming that the U.S. regulatory body is not meant to be used to exert pressure on commercial parties under binding contracts,” said Venture Global LNG spokeswoman Shaylyn Hynes.

Venture Global has sold more than 200 cargoes worth about $18.2 billion to date, according to a Reuters tally. Those sales reaped higher prices than would be available under its customers' long-term contracts.

Repsol had asked the DOE reopen the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission's approval of the Calcasieu plant in view of the startup problems that has prevented it from getting its LNG cargoes.

BP, Edison and Shell last month separately pressed a U.S.-EU task force on energy security to intervene in the dispute.

Venture Global is operating the Calcasieu Pass plant at capacity, it has told U.S. regulators.

Shell and others claim the firm has profited from the rally in global gas markets while short-changing Europe's energy security. They have been told they will not receive their contracted amounts until late 2024.

DOE said it has long taken the position that commercial arrangements, including disagreements with contract terms and performance are a matter for the commercial parties to resolve.

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