One down, two to go

Cameron LNG nears completion on first of three liquefaction trains

HACKBERRY — Sempra LNG and Midstream, primary owner of Cameron LNG, opened its facility to the media Wednesday for a firsthand look as it nears completion on the first of its three liquefaction trains that will export liquefied natural gas worldwide.

“I’m glad to say in the next few weeks we’ll be seeing the first few ships arriving here at the Jetties to load up the cargoes and really connect this little community that we call Hackberry to the four corners of the world,” said Farhad Ahrabi, Cameron LNG chief executive officer.

The facility is more than 2 miles long, and the $10 billion project has been constructed with 240,000 cubic yards of concrete, 55,000 tons of steel, 7.5 billion linear feet of cable and 1 million linear feet of pipe.

“It’s a huge civil engineering, construction, logistics and procurement effort. To put something like this together, it requires a lot of patience, a lot of dollars and a lot of know-how,” Ahrabi said.

Phase one of the project — which includes the first train and the ancillary, common facilities to be used by trains two and three — is 99 percent complete, with the commissioning process beginning now, Ahrabi said.

Jamie Gray, project director, said, the commissioning process includes “a sequence we have to get through,” along with some unknowns. Because of that, the company can’t say exactly when it will launch and begin exporting. Ahrabi said the team is anticipating anytime between March and May.

“Our primary concern is really making sure we have a safe site for our workforce, the community,” Gray said. “We wouldn’t take any risks that endanger that just to meet a specific date.”

Workforce

At its peak, Cameron LNG had 11,000 construction workers on site. Currently, the site has 8,000 construction workers. Once the first train is complete, the workforce will move on to trains two or three.

“At the time we’re starting up train one, there’s construction going on in subsequent trains,” Farhad said. “There’s still a lot of people around so we have to be particularly careful and diligent in how we start up and what sequence we use.”

CCJV, a joint venture between McDermott and Chiyoda, hold the engineering, procurement and construction contracts for the facility and of its thousand-plus workforce, Gray said.

About 40 percent of the construction workers are locals, with the rest being brought in from other parts of the country.

Gray applauded Sowela Technical Community College’s commitment to workforce development and said many out-of-region hires were “highly specialized, advanced, technical roles, particularly for the welding operations.”

Once fully operational, Cameron LNG will have 280 permanent employees, many of whom, Gray said, will be local.

Features

The facility isn’t using any cutting edge or new technology, instead relying on “very proven technologies within the plant itself” to make it reliable and dependable, Gray said.

The site features a “world class” visitors center open to selected guests. It includes interactive educational exhibits, along with virtual reality and viewing docks designed to give visitors “a sense of what it’s like to be inside the facility without having to go through security restrictions,” Gray said.

The center will be privately owned by Cameron LNG, but it will be used for public events like stakeholder tours and field trips.

Cameron residents living near the facility will not see the traditional open flames associated with plants. The site will use enclosed, low-noise “ground flares” to vent its hydrocarbons, Gray said.

The community has already seen the benefit of the presence of Cameron LNG through its new community center on Main Street. Funded by Cameron LNG, the nearly 12,000-square-foot facility houses a main event room, activity room, commercialgrade kitchen, screened-in outdoor gathering area and can be used as a command and control center for FEMA during hurricanes and other emergencies.

The site has also contributed to the state’s coastal restoration mission, creating more than 350 acres of wetlands so far during its construction phase.

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Construction at a production unit at Cameron LNG continues Wednesday in Hackberry. More than 8,000 people are working to bring the liquefied natural gas plant’s first production unit into operation over the next few months.

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One of three storage tanks at Cameron LNG.

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At its peak, Cameron LNG had 11,000 construction workers on site. Currently, the site has 8,000 construction workers.

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