Regulators’ decision is an LNG milestone for Cheniere
The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s decision to authorize Cheniere Energy’s plans to build a second natural gas export facility marks a milestone for the Houston-based company as well as its proposed facility in Corpus Christi.
The facility, which would be able to process as much as 15 million metric tons of liquefied natural gas annually, is the first proposed green field export project – one that wouldn’t be built on the footprint of existing LNG infrastructure – to make it this far.
Cheniere is now poised to become the biggest beneficiary of the Energy Department’s 2014 decision to upend the way the government reviews proposed LNG exports, jumping ahead of dozens of other applicants for licenses to widely export the fossil fuel. FERC issued the decision Tuesday.
Cheniere is already building a Sabine Pass facility for liquefying and exporting natural gas near Cameron, La., and was the first in the nation to win government approval to broadly export LNG. But Cheniere’s plans for an LNG facility in Corpus Christi materialized later, putting it behind eight other projects in line for Energy Department licenses to export gas to countries that do not have free trade agreements with the United States.
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One by one
For most of the time since Cheniere’s initial Sabine Pass filing in September 2010, the Energy Department had been working through those applications on a first-come, first-served basis, ticking them off one by one.
But in August 2014, the Energy Department said it would wait to examine applications until after separate legally required environmental reviews, generally conducted by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.
Since FERC completed the environmental review in 2014, the Energy Department is expected to decide on the requested export license for Cheniere’s Corpus Christi project early this year, possibly after a ruling on a license for Dominion’s Cove Point LNG project in Lusby, Md.
Four LNG export pro-jects have now won all necessary federal permits from the Energy Department and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission: Cheniere’s Sabine Pass facility, Sempra’s Cameron LNG in Hackberry, La., Crowley Maritime Corp.’s Carib Energy in Florida and the Freeport LNG project on Quintana Island, Texas.
$12 billion project
Cheniere’s $12 billion Corpus Christi project would comprise three trains, the manufacturing systems capable of liquefying natural gas, as well as a 23-mile-long pipeline to the facility.
The company has inked several 20-year contracts to process and sell natural gas to buyers overseas, most recently with EDP Energias de Portugal. Other contracted buyers include PT Pertamina in Indonesia, Endesa in Spain and Barcelona-based Gas Natural Fenosa LNG.
Judy Hawley, the head of the Corpus Christi port commission, told a congressional committee in April that the facility would provide the foundation for thousands of jobs in the region, going well beyond the estimated 225 workers required to operate it.