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FERC OKs Cameron LNG site clearance

Last Modified: Friday, July 18, 2014 11:51 AM

By Frank DiCesare / American Press

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission recently gave the green light to Sempra Energy to begin site clearance at Cameron LNG, a move that will pave the way for the company to begin construction on the plant’s new liquefaction trains.

FERC’s authorization, granted on July 10, will allow Sempra to begin removing bushes and trees from the area on which the trains will be built. The permit will also allow Sempra to bring construction equipment and trailers into the area.

“It’s an element of the overall permit,” said Octavio Simoes, president of Sempra LNG. “The permit we got on June 19 was an overall permit. What we are now getting are different authorizations to construct. The first one we got last week was to prep the site.”

Sempra plans to expand its Cameron LNG plant in Hackberry with three trains that will produce a combined total of up to 12 million metric tons of LNG per year for export. Construction on the estimated $10 billion project is expected to begin this fall.

“We will probably get dirt moved before the actual groundbreaking,” Simoes said. “But we don’t have an actual date set yet. It will probably be around the end of the third quarter or the beginning of the fourth quarter.”

Simoes said Sempra’s recent authorization will be followed by subsequent ones that will allow the company to do certain things on site.

“There will be a point in time when we can build anything, but we can’t introduce hydrocarbons in the facility until we get an (authorization) from FERC saying we can do so,” he said. “It’s a very structured process. We did it when we built the re-gas terminal. We do it when we build pipelines.”

The trains will take about four years to build, creating about 3,000 construction jobs during peak times, officials have said. The plant’s expansion is expected to create 140 permanent positions.

In April, FERC released its final environmental impact statement on the project, concluding that Cameron’s expansion “would result in some adverse environmental impact,” but “those impacts would not be significant.”

Sempra has created more than 500 acres of new wetlands, all of which are within a mile of the Cameron LNG site.

In February, Sempra received conditional approval from the U.S. Department of Energy to export LNG from its Cameron plant to countries that lack free trade agreements with the U.S. Final approval on the company’s non-FTA export license is still pending with the department.

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