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Venture Global seeks quick FERC OK to allow higher peak capacity at Plaquemines

Highlights

Would raise peak by about 3 million mt/year

Abbreviated application seeks approval by Aug. 30

  • Author
  • Maya Weber
  • Editor
  • Bill Montgomery
  • Commodity
  • Energy Transition LNG Natural Gas

Venture Global LNG has asked the US Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to act quickly to increase the authorized peak capacity of its Plaquemines LNG export terminal project in Louisiana to 27.2 million mt/year from 24 million mt/year, citing better-than-expected operational efficiencies.

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Pointing to "extraordinary current demand for the export of US LNG around the world," Venture Global's Plaquemines LNG asked FERC to approve the increased peak capacity by Aug. 30.

The project is under construction and is targeting the first exports by the end of 2024 and the start of commercial operations about mid-2025, it said in its abbreviated application March 11 (CP22-92). With offtake commitments covering 13 million mt/year for the project, Venture Global still needs to obtain financing before declaring a formal final investment decision, a company executive told reporters at the CERAWeek by S&P Global energy conference in Houston March 9.

Plaquemines LNG, which would mark Venture Global's second LNG facility in Louisiana, received FERC's Natural Gas Act Section 3 authorization in September 2019 for a nameplate liquefaction and export capacity of 20 million mt/year of LNG and peak capacity of 24 million mt/year under optimal operating conditions.

Efficiency cited as key factor

The major factor allowing the proposed increase in peak capacity, Plaquemines said, is "a better understanding of the efficiency and operating capabilities of key components of the liquefaction process system across various gas compositions, gained through a customary process of design progression and advanced simulations (static and dynamic)."

Leaner-than-expected gas compositions will contribute to greater power demand efficiency, it told the regulators. Further, it said 31 MW of compressor motors will operate at less than full capacity, allowing for marginally more than the guaranteed production capacity when fully powered.

"Together, these factors indicate that during optimal conditions, including the best possible ambient temperatures and years with the least maintenance, the project will have a greater peak LNG production capacity than previously estimated," it said.

Permitting pressures

The request for quick action from FERC comes as the agency and the Biden administration have come under increased pressure from the oil and gas industry and some US lawmakers to speed permitting timetables and clear some backlogged applications for a variety of gas projects amid the European energy crisis.

Asserting the project would not constitute a major federal action significantly affecting the environment, Venture Global said it was not filing environmental reports typically required for projects that trigger the National Environmental Policy Act. The application does not propose any new facilities or construction, it said, anticipating it could achieve the new peak level while staying within its current air emissions permit and other regulatory limits. It estimated that the proposed peak liquefaction of 27.2 million mt/year (or 1.4 Tcf/year) would result in port calls of vessels within the previously considered upper limit.

Venture Global LNG has already started construction of the Plaquemines export facility and has given Baker Hughes a full notice to proceed with assembling the first liquefaction trains.