FERC approves Cameron LNG liquefaction, export project

A change was made to this story on June 19.

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission authorized Cameron LNG LLC’s plan to build and operate facilities to liquefy and export natural gas from its existing LNG import terminal in Hackberry, La.

FERC also approved Cameron Interstate Pipeline LLC’s application to construct and operate pipeline and compression facilities in Cameron, Calcasieu, and Beauregard Parishes to supply the Cameron LNG facility with domestically-produced gas. Sempra Energy Corp. owns the project.

The June 19 actions marked the second time FERC has approved an LNG export facility. It approved the Sabine Pass liquefaction project in April 2012, which is under construction. Sabine Pass’s application to expand the project is pending before the commission, along with 12 other LNG export proposals.

The FERC permit is one of the last major regulatory approvals required to start construction on the $9-$10 billion natural gas liquefaction facility, Sempra Chief Executive Debra L. Reed noted.

The US Department of Energy awarded it conditional approval earlier this year to export LNG to countries that don’t have a free trade agreement with the United States, including Japan and European nations, she said (OGJ Online, Feb. 11, 2014).

Cameron LNG’s plans

FERC said Cameron LNG proposes to liquefy and export up to 14.95 million tonnes/year of gas, with a maximum operating capacity equal to up to 2.33 bcfd. Once placed into service, the terminal will be capable of liquefying domestically produced gas for export, importing LNG and regasifying it for domestic delivery, and importing foreign-sourced LNG for subsequent export.

Although the company would have the capability to liquefy domestic gas for export and regasify imported gas for domestic use, it does not plan to do both at the same time, the federal regulator said.

It said Cameron LNG proposes to construct and operate 3 liquefaction trains, each with a capacity of 4.99 million tonnes/year; an additional 160,000-cu-m LNG storage tank (the fourth at Cameron LNG’s terminal); facilities to store refrigerants and condensate products and an associated truck loading/unloading area; a construction dock; and miscellaneous facilities and other minor modifications to existing facilities.

FERC said Cameron LNG proposes to phase in construction and service of the three LNG trains, with the first placed in service in 2017 and the other two in 2018.

Sempra Energy said it would have an indirect 50.2% ownership interest in Cameron LNG and the related liquefaction project, subject to a final investment decision to proceed by each party, finalization of permits, project financing and other customary conditions. The remaining portion will be owned by affiliates of GDF Suez SA, Mitsubishi Corp. through a related company jointly established with Nippon Yusen Kabushiki Kaisha (NYK), and Mitsui & Co. Ltd. (Mitsui), each with 16.6% stakes.

‘International collaboration’

“The liquefaction project is an international collaboration with our partners from Japan and France to create a world-class facility to deliver reliable LNG supplies for more than 20 years to some of the largest LNG buyers in the world," said E. Scott Chrisman, vice-president of commercial development for Sempra LNG and the Cameron LNG liquefaction project’s leader.

US Sen. Mary L. Landrieu (D-La.), who chairs the Energy and Natural Resources Committee, welcomed the news. “Cameron LNG will create thousands of high-paying jobs in Southwest Louisiana and will position America as an energy superpower,” she said hours before opening a June 19 hearing examining the scope of natural gas’s domestic potential.

“[DOE] should follow FERC’s lead and issue the final approval for the project, and [it] should do so quickly so we can create 3,000 high-paying jobs in Southwest Louisiana,” Landrieu continued.

An American Petroleum Institute official also approved of FERC’s action, but called on Congress to accelerate the process for future applicants. “After years of delay, the Cameron liquefaction project is only the second LNG export facility to receive final FERC approval along with its conditional approval from [DOE],” API Upstream Group Director Erik Milito said on June 19.

“This is great news for the workers of Louisiana and for the US economy, but it shows how slowly the current process is working to unlock the economic opportunities created by the US energy revolution,” he continued.

“Members of both the House and Senate are working to expedite the process, and the sooner we act, the sooner that America can cut its trade debt, create thousands of new jobs, and harness its international power as the world’s top producer of natural gas,” Milito said.

Contact Nick Snow at nicks@pennwell.com

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