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Columbia Gulf asks FERC to sign off on Louisiana XPress project to avoid delay


Company seeks to start work before rainy period

Project enables shipments to Sabine

  • Author
  • Maya Weber    Jack Winters
  • Editor
  • Jennifer Pedrick
  • Commodity
  • LNG Natural Gas

Washington — Columbia Gulf Transmission is urging the US Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to act quickly on its certificate authorization for the 493 MMcf/d Louisiana XPress Project, warning it is critical to begin construction in September to avoid the rainy season and meet the Feb. 1, 2022, in-service target.

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The project would create 493 MMcf/d of incremental mainline capacity on Columbia Gulf's system, and combined with utilization of existing capacity, allow for firm transportation service of 850,000 Dt/d on a north-to-south path from Columbia Gulf's Mainline pool to a primary delivery point at an interconnection with Kinder Morgan Louisiana Pipeline in Evangeline Parish.

The project will mainly provide additional supply into Cheniere's Sabine Pass LNG export facility in Cameron Parish, Louisiana. The facility currently has five liquefaction trains online with the most recent train entering service in March 2019 and the sixth 0.7 Bcf/d liquefaction train roughly 70% complete and expected to enter commercial service by 2022.

Market context

US LNG feedgas demand in August to date has averaged nearly 4.4 Bcf/d, a utilization rate of just over 40% as global demand still works to rebound from coronavirus pandemic demand losses. LNG feedgas demand is forecast to grow substantially by 2022 as global demand for LNG rebounds and more stable market conditions return, according to S&P Global Platts Analytics.

The Louisiana XPress Project entails construction of three 46,940 hp greenfield compressor stations, and modifications at an existing compressor in East Carroll Catahoula, Evangeline, and Rapides Parishes, Louisiana (CP19-488).

In a letter to FERC Aug. 14, Columbia Gulf noted that it received an environmental assessment from FERC staff Feb. 6, finding no significant impact, provided that certain mitigating measures are implemented. But the project has not yet received its certificate (CP19-488).

Avoiding wetter months

"Commencing construction in September allows for tree clearing and access road installation as well as grading and site fill to be completed in the fall when less precipitation is expected in the project area as opposed to the rainy season in Louisiana which begins in December," the company told FERC. It noted its plan to start building in September with the goal of completing construction in November 2021 and conducting commissioning and testing November 2021 through January 2022.

"To the extent construction schedules cannot be compressed while maintaining safe work practices in a constrained resource environment, delays in the certificate issuance could manifest in delayed in-service, resulting in impacts for Columbia Gulf and its project customer," it wrote.

In its application to FERC, Columbia Gulf said it had executed a binding agreement with a shipper to provide 800,000 Dt/d of firm transportation service for a 20-year term, providing the required market support for the Louisiana XPress project

Alongside the Louisiana XPress projects, there are two other projects that are more than three months past the issuance of their EA by FERC staff and are awaiting FERC approval. Those include KMLP's Acadiana project, evaluated jointly in the EA with Louisiana XPress, and the Double E Pipeline project, which received its EA March 24.

For the Double E project, several conservation groups have pushed for FERC to rethink its EA in light of the coronavirus pandemic's impacts on oil and natural gas markets. FERC, however, in January denied the groups' late motions to intervene.