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U.S. LNG Terminal Development Gathers Pace

Cheniere Energy's Sabine Pass liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminal in Texas is nearing completion to become the first operational terminal of its kind in the Lower 48. Dominion has begun turning dirt for its Cove Point LNG export project in Maryland, and Freeport LNG has secured financing for the first train at its terminal planned for Quintana Island in Texas.

Sabine Pass is on schedule and is slated to begin liquefaction service during the fourth quarter of 2015, according to Cheniere's website. And separately last week Sempra Energy broke ground for its Cameron LNG project in Louisiana (see Daily GPI, Oct. 24).

Dominion said Thursday it has begun construction-related activities for the Cove Point project, which will add export capability to an existing import terminal that has been on the western shore of Chesapeake Bay for nearly 40 years. Preparations for work site clearing and grading have begun. Activities began earlier in October at two off-site locations: a temporary pier being built on the Pautuxent River to receive barge shipments of large equipment and a temporary location for offices, material staging and parking for construction workers, Dominion said. Liquefaction/export operations are slated to begin in late 2017.

Freeport LNG has nailed down $3.85 billion of financing from Japanese lenders for the first train at its export terminal proposed for Quintana Island near Freeport, TX.

"We look forward to commencing construction of the initial two trains of the liquefaction project in the coming weeks and beginning commercial exports in 2018," said Freeport LNG CEO Michael Smith on Thursday.

Freeport train one debt financing is being provided by Japan Bank for International Cooperation (JBIC) and six commercial banks. They are the Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ Ltd.; Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corp.; Mizuho Bank Ltd.; Sumitomo Mitsui Trust Bank Ltd.; Mitsubishi UFJ Trust and Banking Corp.; and ING Bank NV, Tokyo Branch.

The portion of the loans financed by the commercial banks is insured by Nippon Export and Investment Insurance. Pursuant to their previously announced agreement, Osaka Gas Co. Ltd. and Chubu Electric Power Co. Inc. are investing about $1.2 billion for the development of the first train (see Daily GPI, Feb. 28).

Financing for Freeport's second train is in the works and an announcement is expected soon, the company said Thursday. These agreements, together with the train one financing agreements and the previously announced $1.3 billion equity commitment to train two by IFM Investors will allow for the start of construction on the first two trains once final approvals are received from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) and the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), Freeport said.

A request for rehearing of FERC's July approval of the project is currently pending (see Daily GPI, July 31). DOE has granted conditional but not final authorization to export to non-free trade agreement countries.

Financial close and commencement of construction of Freeport's third train is expected during the first half of 2015.

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