FERC creates division to handle LNG projects

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission is creating a division within its Office of Energy Projects to accommodate the growing number and complexity of applications to site, build, and operate LNG export terminals, FERC Chairman Neil Chatterjee reported.

The US Federal Energy Regulatory Commission is creating a division within its Office of Energy Projects (OEP) to accommodate the growing number and complexity of applications to site, build, and operate LNG export terminals, FERC Chairman Neil Chatterjee announced.

The new Division of LNG Facility Review and Inspection (DLNG) will consist of 20 existing LNG staff members in Washington, DC, and eight additional fulltime staffers recruited in the Houston area and based in a new regional office there, Chatterjee said.

“As the demand for US LNG and the number and complexity of project applications has grown, the commission has experienced a similar growth in the need for FERC to expand its oversight in this program area,” Chatterjee said. “Much of the work related to these LNG projects, and the expertise it requires, is based in and around Houston, the so-called ‘Energy Capital of the World.’”

The commission decided it should direct its newest LNG efforts to recruiting employees in the Houston area to build upon good work already occurring in FERC’s Washington headquarters, Chatterjee said.

As recently as April 2018, FERC had 13 staff members dedicated to working on LNG engineering and review issues, the commission said. That number has since grown to 20 staffers whose efforts are critical to completing engineering reviews, coordinating safety reviews with the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration at the US Department of Transportation, and preparing engineering analyses for inclusion in environmental documents, it said.

Next steps in process

FERC’s OEP and the Office of the Executive Director have begun coordinating with the US General Services Administration on space requirements and office configuration in Houston. Postings seeking candidates for the additional staff, starting with the division director, will be made shortly, the commission said.

Fred H. Hutchison, president of LNG Allies, said that the organization has been working with Chatterjee and other FERC commissioners on the idea for several months and thus was excited about the announcement.

“Consideration and approval of US LNG export projects is a core FERC activity,” Hutchison told OGJ. “Creating an LNG division highlights this reality and opening an office in Houston will help in recruitment of the best LNG specialists, many of whom live and work in America’s Energy Capital.”

Charlie Riedl, executive director of the Center for Liquefied Natural Gas at the Natural Gas Supply Association, also expressed approval. “FERC’s plan to open a Houston office is a welcome step that reflects the growing nature of the US LNG industry,” he told OGJ on July 25. “The commission’s important work and oversight of LNG terminals is critical for our industry and the opportunity it presents. Having the office in Houston should assist both regulators and industry during the regulatory process.”

Contact Nick Snow at nicks@endeavorb2b.com.

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