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Kinder Morgan seeks FERC OK to start commercial operations at Elba Island LNG

Kinder Morgan Inc. companies told the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission that the first natural gas liquefaction train of the Elba Island LNG terminal in Georgia is about ready to start commercial operations.

The subsidiaries, Elba Liquefaction Co. LLC and Southern LNG Co. LLC asked FERC on Aug. 9 for authorization to enter the first of several small liquefaction trains into commercial service. The subsidiaries requested the agency's authorization no later than Aug. 16, when they said the first train will be ready.

"Kinder Morgan is entering the final stages of the testing and approval process for the first unit at its Elba Island Liquefaction facility," Kinder Morgan spokesperson Lexey Long said. "We expect it will be in service soon."

The authorization would be a significant step for Elba Island LNG, which has faced a series of delays. Kinder Morgan executives said during a July 17 earnings call that the terminal was producing LNG, making it the fifth major U.S. LNG export facility to become operational, albeit the smallest. Executives at the time did not specify exactly when the facility would export its first cargo or enter commercial service.

The terminal, which is near Savannah, Ga., will have an LNG production capacity of 2.5 million tonnes per annum when all 10 of its modular trains are online. The project is backed by a 20-year offtake agreement with Royal Dutch Shell PLC.

Kinder executives in July attributed the delays at Elba to mechanical issues with a pressure vessel known as a "cold box," which holds LNG. Kinder Morgan CEO and Director Steven Kean said the problems were related to chilling the gas to such a low temperature that it was solidifying. The required solution was a slower startup.

"Essentially, we were trying to start it too fast," Kean said at the time. (FERC docket CP14-103)

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