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Cheniere seeks to start commissioning work at Corpus Christi's 2nd LNG train

Cheniere Energy Inc. asked the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission for permission to begin testing on the second train of its Corpus Christi LNG export terminal in Texas, a development that came within weeks of shipping the first cargo from the first train.

Cheniere asked FERC on Dec. 19 to allow it to start commissioning work on train 2 fuel gas systems. The company asked FERC to sign off on the request no later than Dec. 31.

Work on the second train, which would have a capacity of 4.5 million tonnes per annum of LNG, is part of a major ramp-up looming for Cheniere in terms of production. The train is expected to come online in the second half of 2019, and construction has begun on a 4.5-mtpa third train.

Four trains of the same size are in commercial service at the company's Sabine Pass export terminal in Louisiana, where Cheniere is also commissioning a fifth train that began producing LNG in late October.

A tanker carrying the first commissioning cargo from the first 4.5-mtpa train at Corpus Christi departed Dec. 11. The terminal produced its first LNG in November and became the third large-scale LNG export facility to start up in the Lower 48, joining Sabine Pass and Dominion Energy Inc.'s Cove Point in Maryland. Corpus Christi is also the first built from the ground up instead of adapted from existing infrastructure.

Cheniere has secured a series of long-term supply deals with LNG buyers in 2018. Those include a 20-year deal announced Dec. 18 with a Petroliam Nasional Bhd., or Petronas, unit to supply 1.1 mtpa. The deal was tied to a sixth train at Sabine Pass. Cheniere is working to commercialize the sixth train, but the Petronas deal could push the project across the line to be commercially sanctioned in 2019.

Cheniere already gave the go-ahead to heavy industrial construction company Bechtel Corp. to start early work on Sabine Pass' train 6. Cheniere said in November that it awarded Bechtel a $2.02 billion contract for construction.