The US Federal Energy Regulatory Commission said in a notice Friday that it will issue an environmental assessment for Cheniere Energy's proposal to expand its Sabine Pass liquefied natural gas export terminal in Louisiana in August.
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Sabine Pass is the only LNG export project to secure final approval from FERC to begin construction and authorization from DOE to export to gas to countries that do not have free trade agreements with the US. Cheniere is already building four liquefaction trains at the facility that would export 2.2 Bcf/d of LNG.
Cheniere, through its Sabine Pass Liquefaction and other subsidiaries, filed applications last September to add two additional trains which would be capable of liquefying about 1.3 Bcf/d of gas, to the Sabine Pass terminal.
In the notice, FERC said the EA would be issued August 1 and set October 30 as the federal authorization decision deadline for the expansion project.
The expansion project "is being proposed as a result of the continued improved outlook for domestic natural gas production, owing to drilling productivity gains that have enabled rapid growth in supplies from gas-bearing formations in the US," the company's September 30 application said.
Cheniere Creole Trail Pipeline also plans to add 104.3 miles of pipeline, a compressor station and other facilities to supply an additional 1.5 Bcf/d of gas capacity for fuel and feed gas required by the expansion project, according to the application.
The application also said that the company expects to start exports from Train 5 by December 2018 and build and startup Train 6 when commercially feasible.
Cheniere has filed three separate LNG export applications to DOE for the expansion, which were 13th, 14th and 18th, respectively, in DOE's non-FTA permit queue. The department, however, has proposed scrapping that order of precedence for one that prioritizes the most commercially advanced projects. This would, in effect, put the expansion project second in line, according to a research note from FBR issued Friday.