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FERC Delays Environmental Review of Cameron Liquefaction Facility

FERC has revised its schedule for the completion of the final environmental impact statement (FEIS) for Sempra Energy's Cameron Liquefaction Project, pushing its release back five months.

The FEIS, which was initially to be released on Nov. 22, will instead be issued on April 30, 2014, according to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission [CP13-225, CP13-27]. Following issuance of an FEIS FERC generally takes 30 to 60 days to issue an overall decision on the siting and facilities for an LNG project. Cameron has yet to receive authorization from the Department of Energy for exports to non-free trade agreement (FTA) countries.

"Given FERC's current plan to issue the [FEIS] for Cameron on April 30, the FERC could still conclude its review and issue an order approving the project toward the end of [the first half of 2014]," wrote energy analysts with ClearView Energy Partners in a research note Thursday. The Commission issued the schedule of environmental review (SER) a couple of days after the Pipeline & Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA)  weighed in with a "no objection" notification. A delay occurred when PHMSA in September questioned parts of Cameron’s plans. Following a response from Cameron the safety agency signed off on the project.

"PHMSA has reviewed the data and methodology Cameron used to determine the design spills based on the flow from various leakage sources including piping, containers and equipment containing LNG [liquefied natural gas], refrigerants and flammable fluids....Based on our review of the documents [on the FERC docket], PHMSA has no objection to Cameron's methodology for determining the candidate design spills to establish the required siting for its proposed LNG liquefaction project facilities," PHMSA said.

The proposed liquefaction facility will use Cameron LNG's existing import facilities, including two marine berths capable of accommodating tankers; three LNG storage tanks of 480,000 cubic meters and vaporization capability for regasification services of 1.5 Bcf/d. The facility will have three liquefaction trains with a total export capability of approximately 1.7 Bcf/d, according to Sempra (see Daily GPI, Dec. 11, 2012).

Earlier this year, Cameron LNG signed commercial development agreements with Mitsubishi Corp., Mitsui & Co. Ltd. and a subsidiary of GDF Suez SA, which bind the parties to fund all development costs, including design, permitting and engineering for the full capacity of the new facility (seeDaily GPI, April 18).

Next in line for FERC environmental action is the Freeport LNG export project. "We anticipate that FLEX [Freeport LNG Expansion LP and FLNG Liquefaction LLC] could experience a similar shift in its FERC SER scheduled by late December," the ClearView analysts said. "FLEX has not yet received a letter with a 'no objection' determination, but we continue to watch that docket [CP12-509] for one. We expect FERC to reset the SER for FLEX either shortly after receiving a 'no objection' determination from PHMSA, or by Dec. 27, whichever comes first," they said.

FLEX seeks to export LNG from Quintana Island near Freeport, TX, to countries with which the United States does not have an FTA. In May, the Department of Energy conditionally authorized the export of up to 1.4 Bcf/d of LNG from the Freeport LNG Terminal on Quintana Island, TX, to non-FTA countries for 20 years. In November it approved an application for an additional 0.4 Bcf/d of exports  (see Daily GPI, Nov. 21; May 20).

The ClearView analysts estimated that the Commission will approve the FLEX project in February-March 2014.

While the Energy Department has authorized global exports to four projects, only one, Sabine Pass Liquefaction LLC and Sabine Pass LNG LP, has received site and facilities approval from FERC and is now under construction (April 17, 2012).

The others given the nod by DOE include Freeport LNG, Lake Charles Exports LLC (see Daily GPI, Aug. 8), and Dominion Cove Point LNG LP (see Daily GPI, Sept. 12). Cameron LNG would be next in line for a DOE sanction, according to an earlier schedule announced by the department. No FERC environmental statement has been issued so far on Lake Charles or Dominion Cove Point.

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