The Sabine-Neches waterway is a critical gateway to world commerce. It ranks as one of the busiest shipping channels in the U.S., is home to two of the nation’s largest ports and plays a central role in facilitating global energy supplies. When Hurricane Laura made landfall in 2020 as a Category 4 storm just 30 miles from our Sabine Pass liquefaction facility, it devastated local communities and infrastructure. The hurricane destroyed critical navigational infrastructure, known as an Aid to Navigation, in the Sabine-Neches Waterway, reducing the former 247 useability of the channel for commercial shipping. Due to timing and budgetary constraints, the U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) would not have been able to restore this critical Aid to Navigation until sometime in the future. 

When Cheniere learned of the situation, we partnered with the Sabine Pilots, a group that works to maintain the safety and environmental integrity of the waterway, to provide an alternative plan for reconstruction. 

Cheniere led collaborative efforts with the USCG to develop a reconstruction plan, timeline and budget. Leveraging our strong relationships with industry, governmental and nongovernmental organizations in the area, we built a coalition of key stakeholders who use the channel to expedite the project. We hosted meetings with fellow oil and gas companies in the area, the Sabine-Neches Navigation District, the Southeast Texas Waterway Advisory Council (SETWAC), the Port of Beaumont and others to quickly identify funding and safely rebuild the navigational aid and restore use of the channel for all stakeholders. 

We contributed $100,000 — about a fifth of the total reconstruction cost — and helped raise the remaining funds. By July 2022, just 3 months after the start of the project, the navigation infrastructure was rebuilt. This project not only illustrates Cheniere’s commitment to supporting safe operations; it also demonstrates the strength of our cooperative relationships and our collaborative approach to addressing challenges facing our communities, stakeholders and industry. 

The active hurricane season of 2020 resulted in several navigational aids being destroyed along the Sabine-Neches waterway, most notably the rear range tower and light marking the entrance to the Jetty Channel. Cheniere stepped up to coordinate and marshal the local maritime community through SETWAC (Southeast Texas Waterways Advisory Council) to successfully secure local project funding and logistics to fully restore this essential Aid to Navigation. Cheniere’s response demonstrates the unique and valuable relationship we enjoy as waterway partners and their commitment to and stewardship of maritime commerce for all stakeholders and waterway users upon the Sabine-Neches Waterway.”

— Captain Andrew Guidry, President, Sabine Pilots