The Sunday Read: ‘How a restaurateur transformed the US energy industry’


It was a gamble on liquefied natural gas, but it paid off well — turning the United States into a leading exporter of fossil fuels.

Journalist Jake Bittle delves into the storied career of Charif Souki, the Lebanese-American entrepreneur whose aptitude for risk changed the course of US energy trade.

The article outlines how Mr. Souki grew from restaurant owner in Los Angeles to co-founder and chief executive of Cheniere Energy, an oil and gas company specializing in liquefied natural gas, and provides insight into his thought process: “As Souki sees it,” writes mr. Bittle, “the short-term need to power the world outweighs the long-term demand to tackle carbon emissions.”

At a time of acute climate anxiety, Mr. Souki’s reasoning may strike some as outdated, even brash. The world may be facing energy and climate crises, Mr Souki told The New York Times, “but one is going to happen this month and the other in 40 years.”

“If you say to someone, ‘You’re going to be without power this month,’ and you talk to the same person about what’s going to happen 40 years from now,” he said, “they’ll tell you, ‘What should I care about 40 years from now? years from now?’”

Additional production for The Sunday Read was contributed by Emma Kehlbeck, Parin Behrooz, Anna Diamond, Sarah Diamond, Jack D’Isidoro, Elena Hecht, Desiree Ibekwe, Tanya Pérez, Marion Lozano, Naomi Noury, Krish Seenivasan, Corey Schreppel, Margaret Willison, Kate Winslett and Tiana Young. Special thanks to Mike Benoist, Sam Dolnick, Laura Kim, Julia Simon, Lisa Tobin, Blake Wilson and Ryan Wegner.

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