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FERC Staff Gives Environmental Nod to Freeport LNG

FERC staff issued the final environmental impact statement (FEIS) for the Phase II Modification Project and the Liquefaction Project proposed by Freeport LNG and found the projects' impacts would not be significant provided the developer incorporate planned and suggested mitigation measures, Commission staff said.

Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) staff noted that the site of the liquefaction plant and export terminal would be an expansion of an existing regasification and import facility at Quintana Island near Freeport, TX, in Brazoria County. Provided mitigation measures are followed, the only significant impacts would be during construction on the residents of Quintana.

The FEIS follows by three months staff's issuance of the draft environmental impact statement (DEIS) on the project (see Daily GPIMarch 14). The comment period on the DEIS closed May 5. Analysts at ClearView Energy Partners said last week that they expect commissioners to decide on the Freeport project some time during July-August (see Daily GPIJune 13). Last week, Commission staff issued a favorable DEIS on Cheniere Energy Inc.'s Corpus Christi Liquefaction LLC project. Sempra Energy's Cameron LNG project in Louisiana is next up for a FERC decision, which is expected when the Commission meets Thursday.

Staff evaluated a number of alternatives to the Freeport projects "...and found no other practicable alternative that would result in less environmental impact that would still address the purpose and need of the projects.

"...[W]e analyzed other proposed LNG export facilities on the West Coast, Gulf Coast and East Coast of the United States and whether these could be considered system alternatives [to Freeport]," FERC staff said. "In all cases we found that these alternatives would not address the liquefaction project's purpose and would not offer any significant environmental advantage."

Expansion of "another proposed LNG export terminal" as considered as an alternative. "However, this alternative would involve further impact such as construction of additional liquefaction infrastructure plus the potential need for expanded docking facilities."

Freeport LNG has received all authorizations required from the U.S. Department of Energy to export the entire LNG production volume of the first three trains of the project (see Daily GPINov. 21, 2013). The minimum capacity of the three trains has been fully contracted under use-or-pay tolling agreements with Osaka Gas, Chubu Electric, BP Energy Co. (see Daily GPIFeb. 12, 2013), Toshiba Corp. and SK E&S LNG LLC (see Daily GPI, Sept. 10, 2013).

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