Eagle LNG Partners has submitted a dozen draft resource reports to FERC that move it closer to final federal approval for plans to build and operate a small-scale liquefied natural gas (LNG) production facility in Jacksonville, FL.

Eagle LNG is a partnership of General Electric (GE) units, Clean Energy Fuels Corp. and Ferus Natural Gas Fuels (see Daily GPI, Oct. 31, 2013; Sept. 20, 2013). Late last year it received Federal Energy Regulatory Commission approval for a pre-filing process on the first in a series of small-scale LNG production facilities, starting with the Jacksonville location (see Daily GPIDec. 4, 2014).

CEO Dick Brown said submitting the resource reports "significantly advances" the FERC process to develop and operate an LNG facility to serve domestic and international markets. The site would receive and liquefy natural gas, temporarily store the produced LNG, and periodically load LNG onto ocean-going vessels for use in the marine fueling trade.

Brown said the project "continues to gain momentum while simultaneously receiving tremendous support from the city of Jacksonville and the North Florida region, and we continue to work with interested clients and stakeholders to move toward startup and commissioning in 2018."

The facility is to service local domestic applications in the transportation and other sectors, along with nearby small-scale export markets. Brown said the backers are "bullish about the potential for natural gas to displace heavy fuel oil and diesel."

Last February, FERC staff issued a notice of intent to prepare an environmental impact statement, along with a request for comments on environmental issues. The resource reports are a required step in the FERC review process.

Since peaking in August 2007, gross U.S. natural gas imports have fallen at an annualized trend-line rate of 6.3% per year. Meanwhile, gross U.S. natural gas exports have increased at a comparable rate of 9.5% per year over that same time period, according to Energy Information Administration data and NGI calculations.

"If gross imports and exports continue to change at those respective trend-line rates, then the U.S. would become a net exporter of gas in 3Q2017," according to Patrick Rau, NGI director of strategy and research. "However, the startup of U.S. LNG export facilities could accelerate this timetable, everything else being equal."