FERC issues final approval for US Sempra’s Cameron LNG project

19 June 2014 18:08 Source:ICIS News

HOUSTON (ICIS)--The Cameron liquefied natural gas (LNG) project, developed by US-based utility Sempra Energy, received its final clearance on Thursday from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) as the second US LNG export project to advance to construction. 

FERC issued the authorisation to construct and operate the three-train, 12m tonne/year expansion project in Hackberry, Louisiana.

"We are pleased to have reached this important milestone successfully and to be one step closer to starting construction later this year," said Octavio Simoes, president of Sempra LNG.

With the regulatory permit in hand, Cameron LNG is now closer to reaching a final investment decision on the estimated $9bn-10bn venture. If construction would begin this year, first LNG could begin in 2017, with trains 2 and 3 starting up in 2018.

Sempra Energy holds a 50.2% stake in the project, while France-headquartered energy group GDF SUEZ, Japanese trading company Mitsui and a consortium between Mitsubishi and Nippon Yusen each holds 16.6% equity.

The project’s nameplate capacity is 13.5m tonnes/year but has contracted to export 12m tonnes/year on a long-term basis to GDF SUEZ, Mitsubishi and Mitsui.

Cameron LNG has already received its non-free trade agreement (non-FTA) export licence from the US Department of Energy (DOE), the fifth US project to do so. Freeport LNG was the second US project to receive its non-FTA export licence. However, the Cameron LNG scheme has been able to leap ahead by a few months because Sempra’s consortium developed the project’s engineering at a faster pace.

The planned 13.2m tonne/year Freeport LNG export project in Texas saw its final environmental impact statement (EIS) for Freeport LNG on Monday. Freeport must next await a decision by the commission board – three appointed energy officials – to document and approve it before the agency deems the project ready to start construction.

“It means we are right on schedule to start construction this fall as planned,” said Freeport LNG CEO Michael Smith.

A final investment decision for Freeport had been expected by the third quarter of 2014, according to the project. Market sources estimate this could arrive by August or September.

US energy firm Cheniere’s Sabine Pass trains 5 and 6 expansion is also gathering pace, with an environmental assessment expected by 1 August, according to FERC. The next deadline for final federal authorisation approval would be 30 October.

By Ruth Liao