The third train of Cheniere Energy Inc.’s  Sabine Pass liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminal in Louisiana is ready to enter service, Cheniere told FERC in a letter Monday, and the Commission on Tuesday approved commencement of operations.

“With this submittal, Sabine Pass has filed all documentation required by FERC [Federal Energy Regulatory Commission] staff demonstrating readiness for Train 3 to be placed into service,” Cheniere told the Commission [CP11-72; CP13-2]. “Sabine Pass is herein requesting immediate authorization to place Train 3 facilities in service…”

Genscape Inc. analysts said the train would be entering “pre-commercial operations” as of Tuesday. “Even though the train is in commercial operations, Genscape still considers this to be ‘pre-commercial’ at the time of this approval,” the firm said in a note Tuesday.

“The capacity holders [KOGAS 3.5 mtpa (million tonnes per annum) and Shell 0.7 mtpa] at Train 3 have 180 days before they need to begin the terms of their 20 year free on board (FOB) contract.

“During this time KOGAS and Shell have first right of refusal. Genscape expects more consistent operations (feed gas deliveries) with the end of the commissioning period. During commissioning and testing, ramping up and down of the train is a common procedure that would not be expected as much during commercial operations.”

The first two trains at Sabine Pass went online last year, and since then, exports have been ramping up, making Cheniere a leading buyer of physical gas in the United States as well as a major pipeline capacity holder.

The Sabine Pass site can accommodate up to six liquefaction trains capable of processing more than 3.5 Bcf/d of natural gas. The production capacity of each LNG train is being designed for approximately 4.5 mtpa.

Construction began on Trains 3 and 4 in May 2013, and on Train 5 in June 2015. Train 4 is expected to begin operation during the second half of this year. Train 5 is expected to be online during the second half of 2019, according to Cheniere’s website.

Cheniere is also developing a liquefaction and export terminal in Corpus Christi, TX. Trains 1 and 2 are under construction, and the third train is fully permitted.