Tellurian Chairman Martin Houston countered rumors that his company is looking to sell, following reports last week that the firm has contracted with Lazard.

Bloomberg reported Jan. 25 that the company was considering a sale among other options with the headline “Tellurian Hires Lazard to Explore Sale of U.S. Natural Gas Developer.”

The news, coupled with a story that the Biden Administration was moving to pause new certifications for LNG export projects, caused Tellurian shares to jump by as much as 20% in value. Tellurian’s export project, Driftwood LNG in Calcasieu Parish, Louisiana, already has federal approval.

“The focus of the Lazard engagement is on commercial matters,” Houston said in a letter to shareholders on Jan. 29. “We are aware of a misleading headline in a press report last week regarding our financial adviser. Let me clarify: first and foremost, the purpose of hiring Lazard was to give us advice on unlocking the value of our asset base and to help expand our thinking.”

Lazard is a Houston-based financial services and advisory firm, a company that has a well-known M&A group.

Houston said Tellurian hired Lazard to take advantage of the firm’s knowledge of the energy market to consider new approaches and equity discussions. Houston said he is a large shareholder in Tellurian and is committed to realizing the company’s greatest value for shareholders.

Tellurian has recently struggled financially, announcing in November 2023 plans to raise $125 million in financing to pay for drilling projects in 2024. That news was followed by the announcement that Chairman Charif Souki, who co-founded the company with Houston, had been replaced by Houston as chairman in December.

Tellurian’s Driftwood LNG facility has been in development since 2016. On a 1,200-acre site south of Lake Charles, Driftwood would have a capacity of 27.6 million metric tons per annum. The site is expected to begin production in either late 2026 or early 2027.

In his note, Houston reminded shareholders of the plant’s certified status.

“We already have our license to export LNG to non-FTA (free trade agreement) countries, which is valid through 2050,” he said. “I would add that in the meantime, the global demand outlook for LNG has not changed, so any scarcity will drive opportunity for Tellurian.”

The day after the story of the Lazard hire became public, the Biden administration announced a pause in the approval of all new LNG export terminal projects to create new guidelines that would consider national security, the economy and climate change. LNG trade agreements with countries the U.S. has a free trade agreement in place with are approved automatically.

Deals with non-FTA countries require federal approval. Virtually all LNG export facilities rely on non-FTA agreements for economic viability.

The White House’s decision affects four LNG projects currently seeking federal permits.

Driftwood LNG, along with six other projects under construction, already has the necessary permitting from the federal government.

The Tellurian head said that he would keep shareholders informed of the company’s plans.

“We will not create any false dawns,” Houston said. “If we have concrete news, we will tell you, and if we are making progress, we will guide you.”