Meet The Bronx-Born Billionaire Exporting America’s Shale Gas Bonanza


Share to Linkedin Shale Gas Billionaire: Michael Smith at his massive LNG operation on Quintana Island, Texas, which is now shipping out more than 2% of the United States’ natural-gas production. “It’s my baby,” he says. Quintana Island is a seven-mile speck of land off Freeport, Texas, tucked in where the Brazos River empties into the Gulf of Mexico.

Over the past 200 years the island has been home to a Mexican fort, then a busy seaport for early Texas farmers, who shipped out cotton. Union ships later bombarded Confederate troops stationed there. In 1900 came the Great Galveston Hurricane, which killed 11, 000 in the immediate vicinity and wiped Quintana clean. By the time Michael S. Smith set foot on the island in 2002, it was languishing: a few dozen dilapidated homes, a migratory bird sanctuary and beach, and a brownfield of storage tanks built on fill dredged from navigation channels. “We’d be sinking in the mud if more...