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One of the founders of Cheniere Energy, Charif Souki is also the president and CEO of Cheniere Energy. As an independent investment banker for about 20 years, Souki has specialized in providing finances for the small capitalized companies focusing on oil and gas industry. With his bold leadership, Souki has single handedly transformed the landscape of LNG, which will be noted in LNG history as a turning point in the evolution of LNG. For the lifers and specialists dominated business, Souki is considered as a sparkling anomaly. The tenure of Souki at Cheniere was an inauspicious journey and made the company the most unique dealing with energy and considered Cheniere Energy as his baby. Souki established Cheniere such that the company can capitalize on the momentum and continuously build trains much before than the competitors do. Souki, 64, is now is more or less a rock star in the world of US liquefied natural gas.

Early Career...

Souki started his career as a restaurateur and has opened three restaurants in L.A. Souki worked for some time as aninvestment banker on Wall Street. Later Souki has drastically shifted focus towards oil and gas. With the help of technology, Souki looked for exploring oil from the shadow waters of Louisiana Coast. Invested in a company whose shares were made public, and renamed the name to Cheniere. Souki is connected and associated with seven different board members spread across different industries for two different organizations.

Joining the action team...

Souki founded Cheniere Energy Inc., in 1996 and serves as the President and CEO. Cheniere Energy is an oil and natural gas company which usually specializes in liquefied based natural gas. Under the leadership of Souki, Cheniere has transformed into a multi-billion-dollar plants that transform natural gas into LNG such that it can be easily exported world-wide. Souki has made an intensive study of about the economies of imports and about the condition of oil and gas in US.

Souki was always determined about development of the LNG holding tanks and building of the brand new terminals by Cheniere. Building of terminals for the LNG import terminals was expected to cost more than $300 million and to raise the money, Souki has hit the roads, but it was not taken seriously. With this strong determination, the earlier investment banker has invested about $8 billion and was successful in turning his lemon into lemonade. He has also entered into contracts with some of the oil and gas companies, such that revenues will continue to flow for Cheniere continuously for next 20 years. The returns for his hard work was seen only in 2010, when Cheniere became the first company approaching the Energy Department for obtaining permission for export of the gas irrespective of the free-trade agreements with US. By 2012, within a span of one to two years, Cheniere was profitable enough which it was never before.

Souki served as the CEO of Cheniere Energy till 2015.Driftwood LNG is one of the projects taken up by Souki, immediately after moving away from Cheniere. This project was also a great success. Immediately after Souki ousted as Chairman, President and CEO of Cheniere, Souki along with Martin Houston has formed Tellurian in the year 2016. He served as the Chairman and Director of Tellurian Inc.Tellurian Investments mainly focused on liquefaction of the natural gas and exports related to the Gulf Coast. Souki has started Tellurian Investments, with the main intention of exploiting different ways for the extraction of natural gas at the possible low costs and thus earn more profits, compared to the other companies in the market. The new company Tellurian Investments offers liquefaction of mid-scale natural gas and deals with the export projects for US.

Leadership Style...

Souki with his leadership has guided Cheniere Energy Inc for about 19 years and transformed it from an unknown company to the one which revolutionized the LNG market. At the initial development times, Souki has never lose hope and tried hard with his greatest ambition of continuous expansion and accepting the change. With the prediction the US would be in need of importing natural gas from some of the Arab countries, he made plans and forced Cheniere to develop and build a massive LNG terminal as the receiving end and sold off the regasification unit to one of the oil and gas companies. Unfortunately, all his predictions turned out to be wrong and the investments were a big disaster for Cheniere. The market value of the shares has fallen to the lowest rate of $1 in 2008, which was earlier $40. Without giving up, Souki with his leadership skills and intelligence has made Cheniere to own the LNG tanks and docks as huge tankers that were of no use. These tanks and docks were used by Souki as the basis for exporting the gas from US. This plan of Souki was a huge success and the value of shares reached the all time high of $ 84. Souki‘s smart leadership was recognized and awarded by stock options worth of $500 million. When asked Souki about this situation, Souki commits that he is no where fault with the decision as he always wanted continuous growth for the company.

Souki managed to pull victory from the jaws of defeat. Soon investors were lined up to back Souki, a change on the positive front just by only having confidence on Souki. This resulted in huge inflows of investments. During that time, in the year 2013, Souki was the highest paid Chief Executive Officer in United States. At this time he earned about $ 142 million. He could do this successfully, as unlike other competitors he could understand that US has enough of natural gas reserves and developed many innovation techniques. Charif Souki proved to be a talented entrepreneur.

Strategies behind the success...

Souki is known for his innovative thinking and his ability for executing the unconventional ideas. Under the leadership of Souki, he has developed Cheniere as the top company in the area of liquefied natural gas exports on a large scale. Cheniere was started originally by Souki for importing LNG, but his hard work and struggle has made Cheniere as the nation’s first exporter of LNG, and thus has become Wall Street favorite. The secret behind the success of Souki is his approach towards the company and by treating the suppliers as a part of the team and work along with them which results in reduction of cost and time. Another strategy of Souki is that, he believes in pay the employees as per the performance, which motives the employees to work more and thus yield more.

Souki is successful in developing some of the export terminals for the liquefied natural gas and is able to invest in pipelines and provide funds for the production of natural gas. Souki is about to start his first terminal in 2019.

As a successful leader...

At Cheniere, Souki orchestrated the first LNG exports from US. Souki, being a successful leader developed Cheniere as the first mover for developing the LNG exports in US, initially with two major liquefaction projects. With the pace of development, it is estimated that Cheniere would turn out as one of the largest world-wide LNG exporter, and the largest natural gas buyer.In the year 2013, the compensation received by Souki was about $ 142 million and this place him at the highest paid CEO. And this lead to own about 6.6 million shares of the Cheniere stock. Souki is worth deserving the pay. The leadership strategy being followed by Souki is that by seizing all the opportunities and executing them, a unique asset has been built, which guarantees cash flows for years to come. Souki turned out as first in line to export American gas. One of the bold decisions taken by Souki is to forgo his salary and bonus. Almost $150 million worth of shares of Cheniere were being sold off. With the investment flows, Souki wanted to help provide finance for more of the LNG trains.

Even at Tellurian Inc., Souki has made a remarkable progress and was successful in reverse takeover of Magellan Petroleum, which was also an oil and natural gas company. Souki has also plans for building a new liquefied natural gas export for Tellurian.

Personal Life...

Souki has graduated BA from Colgate University and MBA from Columbia University. Souki was remarried to Rita Tellone, a model based in New York and has two kids. Souki can be best understood through his favorite hobby, which is downhill skiing.

Associations and Memberships...

For the American University of Beirut, Souki serves on the board of trustees.
At the Centre on Global Energy Policy at Columbia University, serves as an Advisory Board member.
Souki was also on the International Advisory Board for Neurological Research Institute (NRI) for Texas Children’s Hospital.


Always try to make own lemonade as desired by the given bunch of lemons.
Don’t take decisions based on what is happening in next six months. Decision should be based in what is happening over next 20 years.

Hope readers caught up the spark...

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