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Cameron LNG seeks authorization to ship commissioning cargoes

Highlights

Production is expected to start within days

Sempra prepares for site visit by President Trump

Houston — As it prepares to start production of its first liquefaction train, Sempra Energy's Cameron LNG is asking US regulators for permission to ship its planned commissioning cargoes on a specified schedule.

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The operator said in February that it planned to export as many as seven commissioning cargoes, depending on customer needs, before commercial service under long-term contracts begins. It said at the time that gas marketer Tenaska would arrange the feedgas supply needed for commissioning.

Production is expected to begin within days. In a letter to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission on Thursday, Project Director Jamie Gray asked for authorization by May 16 to start shipping commissioning cargoes. The schedule of expected commissioning deliveries was filed under seal, and Sempra has not said where it expects its first export to land.

"With the first production of LNG from Train 1, Cameron LNG will file weekly commissioning reports as requested by the commission," Gray said.

The $10 billion project -- a joint venture of affiliates of San Diego-based Sempra, France's Total, Japan's Mitsui and a company jointly owned by Japan's Mitsubishi and NYK -- faced delays in late 2017 and early 2018. Startup has been highly anticipated by the market, and the two contractors added workers at the site to get things back on track, One of those contractors, McDermott, recently said that startup of trains 2 and 3 will be delayed until 2020.

President Donald Trump has scheduled a visit to the site on Tuesday, and that appearance could coincide with first LNG production.

It's not clear how long it will take once production starts for Cameron LNG to have enough LNG to ship its first cargo. It has said it would be able to move somewhat quicker than some of its peers because its storage tanks already had a sizable amount of LNG in them that was left over from when the facility was an active receiving terminal a decade ago.

Sempra has also proposed adding liquefaction facilities in Port Arthur, Texas, and Baja California, Mexico, as part of an ultimate goal of supplying up to 45 million mt/year of LNG to markets in Latin America, Asia, Europe and the Middle East.

Sempra is targeting a late 2019 final investment decision for the Mexico project and a late 2019 or early 2020 FID for Port Arthur LNG. US regulators recently granted a permit certificate to the Texas project, as well as the right to export cargoes to countries with which the US does not have a free-trade agreement.

-- Harry Weber, Harry.Weber@spglobal.com

-- Edited by Gail Roberts, newsdesk@spglobal.com