FERC approves two projects designed to boost US natural gas exports

Feb. 15, 2024
The US Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) on Feb. 15 approved two projects to increase US natural gas exports.

The US Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) on Feb. 15 approved two projects to increase US natural gas exports.

Despite protests by the Sierra Club and others, FERC granted Tellurian Inc. a 3-year extension to put its 27.6-million tonne/year (tpy) Driftwood LNG plant on the Calcasieu River, south of Lake Charles, La., in service. 

The company in October asked FERC for more time to construct the plant and an accompanying 2.4-bcfd Driftwood natural gas pipeline, citing “entirely unforeseeable circumstances” related to the COVID-19 pandemic that “inhibited progress in commercializing the project” (OGJ Online, Oct. 9, 2023).

In its order, FERC said Driftwood LNG “has demonstrated good cause for an extension, and that the public interest and environmental findings in the authorization order remain valid.”

Tellurian now plans to bring the project on line by Apr. 18, 2029.

Because Driftwood LNG received a long-term export authorization from the US Department of Energy (DOE) in May 2019, the project is not subject to the Biden administration’s export pause that puts about 13-bcfd of new US LNG capacity at risk (OGJ Online, Jan. 30, 2024).

Both FERC and DOE must determine that an LNG plant application is in the public interest. FERC is responsible for the “actual siting of the LNG infrastructure,” while DOE is responsible for determining if the import and export of LNG is in the public interest, explained FERC Chairman Willie Phillips in a media briefing following the meeting. 

Asked whether FERC would delay or pause its LNG certificate orders because the DOE pause in review and issuance of export authorizations, Phillips said the commission would continue to act expeditiously. “We do not coordinate” with DOE on LNG projects, he said, adding that FERC will act on all “properly filed” LNG applications “when they are ready.”

Separately, FERC granted ONEOK Inc. a Presidential Permit to build and operate the Saguaro Connector natural gas pipeline border crossing into Mexico from Hudspeth County, Tex.

The proposed 2.8-bcfd Saguaro Connector would use 155 miles of 48-in. pipe to transport Permian basin gas carried by ONEOK’s existing 777-MMcfd WesTex intrastate pipeline and other sources to Mexico.

A pipeline on the Mexican side of the border will carry the gas to the west coast for liquefaction and export (OGJ, Dec. 21, 2022). 

In the media briefing, Phillips said the commission is “moving forward aggressively” on FERC’s long-awaited regional electric transmission policy, which he said would be “historic” and the “greatest development in electric transmission in a generation.”

FERC could face a lack of quorum as early as June 30, 2024, if Commissioner Allison Clements, who announced she would not seek another term, decides not to extend her existing term until the end of the Congressional year on Jan. 3, 2025 (OGJ Online, Feb. 12, 2024). Without a quorum, FERC cannot issue orders or new policies.