The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission granted an extension for Cheniere Energy Inc. to complete a sixth natural gas liquefaction train at its Sabine Pass LNG terminal in Louisiana, an expansion project that the developer said remains on track to enter commercial service in the first half of 2023.
FERC had authorized Cheniere in 2015 to build a fifth and sixth train at the export terminal in an order that required the units to be available for service within five years. The fifth train entered commercial service this year. But Cheniere did not announce a final investment decision on the sixth train until June, meaning there was not enough time for the facility to be constructed before the expiration of the original FERC authorization on April 6, 2020. The recent extension, granted by FERC on Dec. 5, gave Cheniere until Dec. 31, 2023, to complete the sixth train. (FERC docket CP13-552)
The request for an extension, which Cheniere submitted Oct. 18, was similar to other pro forma requests by LNG developers over the past several months as construction schedules became clear. Cheniere told investors in a Nov. 1 earnings presentation that the sixth train was around 40% completed.
Cheniere is the biggest LNG exporter in the U.S. and a key player in the ongoing buildout of the country's LNG export infrastructure. The company has five trains in service at its Sabine Pass LNG terminal and two trains in service at its Corpus Christi LNG terminal in Texas. Including the Cheniere plants, there are six LNG export terminals that are online in the U.S. with a combined export capacity of nearly 6.4 Bcf/d, which continues to increase as new liquefaction units come online and ramp up.
Each of the Cheniere trains online or under construction is designed to produce about 4.5 million tonnes per annum of LNG, although Cheniere has said it can boost production from those units as a result of debottlenecking projects, maintenance optimization and other factors.
The next Cheniere train to come online is expected to be a third train at the Corpus Christi LNG terminal. Cheniere received an extension in June that gave the developer until Dec. 30, 2021, to finish the project, which Cheniere commercially sanctioned in May 2018. The third train was around 70% complete at the beginning of November. Cheniere said it expected substantial completion of the train in the first half of 2021, months ahead of a previous target.
Cheniere is also working to commercialize a proposed midscale liquefaction expansion that would add up to 9.5 mtpa of capacity at Corpus Christi LNG.