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Testing on Cameron LNG advances as 1st export nears

The Sempra Energy-led LNG export project in Louisiana asked for federal approval to introduce feedgas to systems supporting its first liquefaction train, signaling that gas flows to the facility may soon ramp up.

The March 25 request by Cameron LNG LLC sought permission from staff of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission by March 27 to send fuel gas to refrigerant turbines as part of tests on systems supporting the first train. That testing would involve sending feedgas partially into the first train but would stop short of the full commissioning activities that would see feedgas introduced to the portion of the train that processes it into LNG. Full commissioning would require additional approval.

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A photo in a March 14 regulatory filing by a Sempra Energy unit shows construction on the first train of the Cameron LNG terminal in Louisiana.

Source: Cameron LNG LLC

Sempra executives said during a Feb. 26 earnings call that the company plans to introduce feedgas to the terminal in the first quarter and complete its performance testing in the second quarter.

The $10 billion first phase of the Cameron LNG project includes three trains expected to be able to export 12 million tonnes per annum of LNG, or about 1.7 Bcf/d. Sempra anticipated completing the second train by the end of 2019 and the third train by the end of the first quarter of 2020.

Since signs of commissioning activity for the first Cameron train emerged in fall 2018, the project developer has received federal authorizations to test key ancillary systems that support the first train. There are indications that feedgas flows to the facility will rise in the weeks ahead, energy consulting and research firm RBN Energy LLC wrote in a March 20 report.

"The commissioning process for Train 1 is probably approaching 150 days at this point — by which time some of the other trains (notably, all Cheniere-owned) had ramped up feedgas intake to near train capacity in preparation for the first commissioning cargo," RBN analyst Sheetal Nasta wrote. "However, considering that the Cameron LNG facility has yet to see feedgas volumes, it's likely that first LNG production is still a month or more away."

The Cameron LNG site has an LNG receiving terminal, which will allow the terminal to function as a bidirectional import and export facility. Cameron LNG is one of as many as three new LNG export terminals that could come online in 2019, which might be a record-setting year for U.S. LNG exports.

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