Shell backs BP in fight over Venture Global LNG exports

By Curtis Williams

HOUSTON (Reuters) – Shell PLC has joined BP PLC in its battle against Venture Global LNG, accusing the liquefied natural gas (LNG) producer of denying it and other customers access to supplies while exporting more than $18 billion worth of the superchilled gas, according to a filing with U.S. regulators.

Venture Global’s Calcasieu Pass export facility has been producing and selling LNG for more than 20 months while telling Shell, BP and others it cannot provide them with term-contract cargoes while the plant is undergoing a commissioning phase. The customers have complained that this lack of access has cost them billions of dollars in lost sales.

Shell filed a letter on Tuesday to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) in support of BP. The letter called on the U.S. regulator to force Venture Global LNG to release plant commissioning data to determine why commercial operations are stalled.

The two energy giants are among a group that includes Edison SpA, Polish state energy firm Orlen and Spain’s Repsol that have filed contract arbitration claims on the lack of LNG cargoes provided under their contracts.

“Venture Global’s unprecedented and inexplicable process for purported commissioning that has so far been shielded from public view fails to follow Commission regulations regarding requests for privileged treatment of documents,” Shell said.

The letter reflects both the weak legal position that the two energy giants hold, a Venture Global LNG spokesperson said, and their efforts to pull regulators in the U.S. and Europe in a contract dispute.

“This unseemly behavior reflects BP and Shell’s increasing lack of confidence in their contractual positions, and their complete disrespect for the U.S. regulatory process,” said spokesperson Shaylyn Hynes.

Shell wants an order for blanket disclosure of privileged documents, or an acceptable level of unilateral redaction of documents, the FERC filing shows.

Venture Global LNG has become a major U.S. exporter of the superchilled gas since it started processing at its Calcasieu Pass, Louisiana, plant early in 2022. It has sold more than 200 cargoes of the gas under its own accounts without supplying BP and other long-term contract customers.

(Reporting by Curtis Williams in Houston; Editing by David Gregorio)