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FERC, PHMSA to Collaborate on LNG Application Reviews, McIntyre Says

Just two days after hinting that FERC could soon have news about improved coordination with other federal entities to speed along pending liquefied natural gas (LNG) applications, Chairman Kevin McIntyre delivered his scoop.

"Our FERC staff has recently engaged in a very successful discussion and collaboration with the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) within the Department of Transportation to better leverage each agency's expertise and role in the LNG authorization process," McIntyre said during the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission's monthly open meeting Thursday in Washington, DC.

"The new collaborative procedures, which will be implemented imminently, will significantly reduce the time required to review LNG project applications by taking full advantage of the expertise of our federal partners at PHMSA, the safety experts, to study the potential impacts to public safety of each and every LNG terminal proposal.

“Our FERC staff is, at this moment, hammering out the details with PHMSA, which we expect to present in a formal memorandum of understanding as soon as possible."

On Tuesday, McIntyre said a published report claiming FERC had informed LNG developers that reviews of project applications are 12-18 months behind schedule was incorrect. At the same time, he said FERC had made "truly significant strides in reforming the permitting process with our federal partners, eliminating duplicative efforts and instituting a streamline procedure that will significantly reduce our LNG permitting timelines. The details are still being hammered out, but we expect to have a formalized agreement in place in the coming days."

The Commission has issued revised notice schedules for two projects, as well as one schedule for a greenfield LNG project subject to the FAST-41 process, in the past six months, McIntyre said. No other LNG project schedules have been revised or released.

Fifteen LNG terminal applications are pending before the Commission, most of them for export projects, compared with a single export application in 2011.

To address the rapid increase in LNG workload, FERC is hiring additional engineering staff, McIntyre said. The Commission is also identifying other opportunities to hire third parties to assist LNG staff, and looking for ways to improve coordination with other federal entities, including the Energy and Transportation departments.

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