FERC approves Cameron LNG liquefaction-export project

By By Frank DiCesare / American Press

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission on Thursday approved Sempra Energy’s Cameron LNG liquefaction-export project, granting the company its construction permit.

FERC’s permit will allow Sempra to begin construction on Cameron LNG’s $10 billion plant expansion in Hackberry. The project will add three trains to the facility that will produce up to 12 million tons of LNG per year for export. 

Work on Cameron LNG’s expansion is expected to begin this fall. The trains will take about four years to build, creating about 3,000 construction jobs during peak times. When complete, the plant’s expansion will also create 140 permanent positions.

E. Scott Chrisman, vice president of commercial development for Sempra LNG, said FERC’s approval now switches Sempra’s focus back to the U.S. Department of Energy and their final approval of the company’s export license to non-Free Trade Agreement countries.

In February, Sempra received conditional approval from the U.S. Department of Energy to export LNG from its Cameron plant to non-FTA countries. Among DOE’s conditions was FERC’s approval of the Cameron LNG’s expansion.

“We’re certainly hopeful that DOE will act expeditiously on it, but we don’t have any particular time frame of exactly when that may occur,” said Chrisman, who also serves as project leader for the Cameron liquefaction project.

Chrisman added that Sempra has expectations that it will receive DOE’s full approval of its non-FTA export license this summer. DOE awarded Sempra its license to export LNG to Free Trade Agreement countries from its Cameron plant in January 2012.

In April, FERC released its final environmental impact statement on the project, concluding that the Cameron’s expansion “would result in some adverse environmental impact,” but “those impacts would not be significant.” Chrisman said Sempra will file its implementation plan with FERC, which will address wetlands mitigation.

“When we build our original re-gas terminal we created beneficial wetlands as offsets to the project site location,” he added. “We will do the same thing again with the liquefaction project. We’ll create beneficial wetlands that mitigate the environmental impact of the plant’s footprint.”

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

As part of its approval, FERC also authorized Sempra’s subsidiary, Sempra US Gas and Power, to construct a 21-mile, 42-inch natural gas pipeline expansion of the Cameron Interstate Pipeline, and approved the construction of a new compressor station and ancillary equipment that will provide natural gas transportation to Cameron LNG’s liquefaction trains.  

In a statement to the American Press, U.S. Sen. Mary L. Landrieu, D-La., chair of the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, said the Cameron LNG project “will position America as an energy superpower.” She added that DOE should “follow FERC’s lead” and issue its final approval for Cameron’s non-FTA export permit.