Washington officials on Tuesday announced that Sempra Energy has received a conditional authorization from the U.S. Department on Energy to export liquefied natural gas from its Cameron LNG plant to countries that do not have a Free Trade Agreement with the United States.
The announcement comes just one day before Sempra officials and representatives from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission hold a public meeting in Sulphur to answer questions and take comments on the estimated $10 billion project.
The authorization, which is subject to environmental review and final regulatory approval, will grant Sempra a permit to export LNG from its Cameron plant in Hackberry to countries such as Japan, India, Taiwan, and the European nations.
Sempra LNG President Octavio Simoes said DOE’s decision is “an important and critical milestone” for the project. He added that the permit will allow the United States to play an important role in helping their non-FTA allies secure their energy future.
“This is the spoke in the wheel that we needed, and now we have it,“ Simoes said. “Not only is this decision important for the project but it’s important for the country. Geopolitically, it’s very important for the U.S. to take advantage of this window of opportunity to be a part of the world energy market and help our allies meet their energy needs.”
Sempra officials received DOE approval to export LNG from its Cameron plant to Free Trade Agreement countries in January 2012. Sempra is looking to expand the plant with three trains, each of which will produce about 12 million tons of LNG per year for export. The trains will take about four years to build. Work on Cameron LNG is scheduled to end in 2018.
Cameron LNG’s expansion is expected to create about 3,000 construction jobs at its peak and 140 permanent positions.
In a statement to the American Press, U.S. Rep. Charles W. Boustany, Jr., R-Third District, said DOE’s announcement “speaks to the important role (Southwest Louisiana) will play in the global energy supply chain.”
“In today’s renaissance of domestic energy production, Southwest Louisiana has established itself as the center of LNG export activity,” Boustany said.
Sempra’s Cameron LNG expansion project is currently under review with FERC officials and is expected to break ground this summer, pending approval from the commission.
“FERC has always had our main attention because it is the critical path to have an authorization to construct,” Simoes said. “If you don’t have that authorization it’s irrelevant to have an authorization to export.”