12 February 2014, News Wires – Regulators at the US Department of Energy have approved Sempra Energy’s plan to export liquefied natural gas to non-free trade agreement countries, the sixth such project cleared by the US.
The facility in coastal Louisiana would have capacity of 12 million tonnes per annum comprised of three 4 million tpa trains. Shares of Sempra were up nearly 1% in New York.
“Today’s authorization by the DOE represents a critical milestone in the development of our export facilities,” Sempra chief executive Debra Reed said.
“Exporting natural gas will lead to the creation of thousands of new jobs and economic growth here in the US and enable our partners to deliver domestically produced natural gas to our allies abroad and to the world marketplace.”
Sempra must still clear multiple other permits including approval from the US Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), but the latest approval signals willingness by US to allow exports of abundant US shale gas that has driven down commodity prices.
The decision brings the total US export capacity authorised to 8.5 billion cubic feet of natural gas per day, according to Reuters data.
Sempra last May signed a trio of 20-year tolling agreements from the terminal, in which GDF Suez of France and Mitsubishi and Mitsui of Japan each agreed to take 4 mpta of LNG from the facility.
The three foreign companies had previously agreed to help Sempra “fund all development expenses, including design, permitting and engineering” of the project.
Construction to convert the import terminal could begin as soon as 2014 with the first phase forecast to go online in 2017 and full operations in 2019.
US Louisiana Senator Mary Landrieu, an advocate for the project, lauded the approval.
“With the ability to safely export LNG, Sempra’s expansion will bring thousands of jobs to our region and be a major economic player throughout the entire state,” she said.
“When complete, Louisiana will be able to compete with foreign companies in the battle for the huge international LNG market.”