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BP Requests US and EU Help in Venture Global LNG Dispute

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BP plc (BP - Free Report) and Shell plc (SHEL - Free Report) have sought the intervention of the U.S.-EU Task Force on Energy Security in a dispute with Venture Global LNG regarding the commencement of commercial operations at the Calcasieu Pass plant.

The companies have alleged misconduct by Venture Global, accusing it of withholding cargo that was agreed upon under long-term supply contracts. Instead, the provider is purportedly selling LNG on the spot market.

In March 2023, Venture Global reported that it had dispatched 128 commissioning cargoes from its Calcasieu Pass plant in Louisiana since the first quarter of the previous year. The majority of these cargoes were shipped to Europe.

Venture Global recently obtained approval from the US FERC to initiate liquefaction blocks 7-9 at its Calcasieu Pass plant. This means that all nine blocks, each comprising two liquefaction units, are now operational at the facility. Despite this development, the US firm has not officially declared commercial operations at the facility.

Shell claims that Venture Global’s opportunistic actions have allowed it to gain an $18 billion windfall, capitalizing on a surge in gas prices following Russia's invasion of Ukraine. Shell contends that this move has hindered its ability to fulfill crucial energy supply needs in Europe.

The sales made by Venture Global reportedly fetched higher prices than those available under the long-term contracts with the four firms, including Shell. The involved parties have been informed that they will not receive the amounts specified in their contracts until late 2024.

The European energy groups, including BP and Shell, are actively pursuing measures to compel the U.S. company to fulfill the terms of the contracted cargo or face financial penalties. This arbitration process is anticipated to extend over several years.

According to Venture Global, BP and Shell have purchased gas from the plant and subsequently sold it outside of Europe, all while referencing Europe’s energy security in letters submitted to the U.S.-EU task force. The company is actively working toward achieving the full completion of its operations, although a specific date for the commencement of full commercial operation has not been disclosed.

Shell has acquired a total of seven commissioning cargoes from Venture Global, with three of them being traded outside of Europe to capitalize on higher profits. Similarly, BP has purchased six commissioning cargoes, and two of these have been traded to destinations outside of Europe.

Venture Global asserts that it has been compliant with the terms of its contracts. The criticisms raised by BP and Shell are viewed by Venture Global as an attempt to litigate the matter through regulators and the media. In response to what Venture Global characterizes as a highly coordinated attack on the business by BP and Shell, it remains to be seen what further actions may be deemed appropriate in addressing the situation.

Zacks Rank & Key Picks

BP currently carries a Zack Rank #3 (Hold).

Investors interested in the energy sector may look at the following companies that presently sport a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy). You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank stocks here.

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