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Q&A: Natural-gas executive Charif Souki

Charif Souki
Souki in 2014. Photo: Anthony Harvey/Getty Images for The New York Times

Charif Souki is considered one of the pioneers of America’s natural-gas export boom. I recently spoke with Souki, who founded a new company called Tellurian Inc., for my latest Harder Line column. Here are more highlights from our December interview:

  • On the glut of natural gas: “The notion that there was an oversupply of LNG [liquefied natural gas] is slowly disappearing, not slowly, disappearing fast, much faster than people expected.”
  • On how companies are selling and buying natural gas: “If you look at oil indexation -- people don’t want to do oil indexation. The buyer says, ‘if oil goes back to $100 a barrel, I can’t afford your gas.’ If prices go back to $30 a barrel, we can’t afford to sell you the gas. Oil indexation doesn’t work in most cases.”
  • On the natural-gas market becoming increasingly liquid like an oil market: “If you’re a buyer around the world, pick up the phone, there is a cargo not too far from where I am [you say], ‘can you redirect it for $2 more,’ in most cases the answer is yes. … The gas market is very quickly catching up [to the oil market] in terms of liquidity. What you still don’t have is transparency.”
  • On coal: “In my mind, you really can’t save coal. It’s kind of like cigarettes. It does not mean that some people won’t continue to smoke. But today, cigarettes are a bad thing, and coal is going to be a bad thing, but some people will continue to use coal because they have no choice. It’s fine. The energy world is big enough to accommodate everything.”
  • On meeting Elon Musk, founder of electric vehicle and solar company Tesla: “I wish, because he’s a visionary. Fascinating, and he is cool. Whether he’s going to make money this time around…”
  • On emissions of methane, which is the primary component of natural gas and a potent greenhouse gas: “The government should put [in place] rules that are necessary...History is slow, and it goes with hiccups and moves up and down and some regulations make sense and some don’t.”