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Why Cheniere Energy Depends on External Financing

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Cheniere Energy’s capital expenditure

Cheniere Energy (LNG) spent ~$6.9 billion in 2015 mainly on capital projects—58.7% higher than what it spent during 2014. Cheniere Energy’s 2015 capex was mainly allocated to the Sabine Pass and Corpus Christi liquefaction trains. In 2016, Cheniere Energy continues to invest on Train 3–5 at the Sabine Pass Terminal and Train 1–2 at the Corpus Christi LNG Terminal. For more details on liquefaction trains, refer to Part 3 of the series.

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Cheniere Energy’s outstanding debt

Cheniere Energy’s total outstanding debt by the end of the fourth quarter was $15.1 billion—a $5.3 billion increase in 2015 alone. Cheniere Energy depends on external borrowing to fund its projects because of low internally generated cash flows. Kinder Morgan (KMI), Williams Partners (WPZ), and Energy Transfer Partners (ETP) are among the midstream companies with huge outstanding debt.

Cheniere Energy’s debt maturity

Cheniere Energy has ~$2.0 billion of debt maturing in the next two years. For the repayment of debt maturing in 2016, Cheniere Energy Partners (CQP), Cheniere Energy’s midstream MLP subsidiary, recently closed “on the previously announced approximately $2.8 billion of senior secured credit facilities.” Cheniere Energy holds the general partner interest and incentive distribution rights in Cheniere Energy Partners.    

Cheniere Energy’s operating cash flows

Cheniere Energy isn’t generating enough cash to service its debt and interest payments. Its cash flow from operations stayed negative for most of the recent quarters. In 2015, the company’s cash flow from operations was -$265.6 million. Currently, the company’s balance sheet and operating performance are in bad shape. The company’s survival depends on the timely completion of its expansion projects. Cheniere Energy forms 0.84% of the iShares Global Infrastructure ETF (IGF).

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