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Energy Transfer confident in green-lighting Lake Charles LNG by year-end

is on trackto reach a positive final investment decision on the Lake Charles LNG liquefactionand export project inthe fourth quarter, the partnership's finance chief said.

"Progresscontinues to be made during the first quarter, and we are currently engaged in variousearly works projects," CFO Thomas Long said during a May 5 earnings call. "[T]hefirst LNG exports are anticipated mid-2021."

Longadded that "project financing efforts remain on track, and preliminary responsesfrom lenders have been positive."

LakeCharles LNG, owned 60% by Energy Transfer Equity and 40% by Energy Transfer Partners LP, received final authorizationfrom FERC in December 2015 for the approximately 2-Bcf/d, $12 billion project. LakeCharles is slated to include three new natural gas liquefaction trains; modificationsto the Trunkline LNG terminal in Calcasieu Parish, La.; and new pipeline facilitiesin Louisiana, Arkansas and Mississippi.

FERCgave Lake Charles LNG the go-aheadFeb. 23 to begin tree clearing to prepare the way for construction, despite theSierra Club's Jan. 19 request for rehearing of the project's FERC authorization.(CP14-120)

in Februarycompleted its merger withBG Group Plc, which iscontracted for the project's liquefaction capacity. Shell is "actively continuingits due diligence" on Lake Charles, Energy Transfer Equity's Long said.