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Calcasieu Pass LNG Export Project Removed from FERC Agenda

FERC passed a lengthy list of items on its consent agenda Thursday, but one -- a proposed certificate for the Calcasieu Pass liquefied natural gas (LNG) export project in Louisiana -- was conspicuously removed from the agenda prior to the meeting.

"I'm disappointed that we're not voting on the project today," said Commissioner Cheryl LaFleur. "Based on the record before us today and my assessment of the legal requirements of the National Gas Act and National Environmental Policy Act, I was prepared to cast a vote on the project."

The move came two months after Federal Energy Regulatory Commission staff issued a final environmental impact statement (FEIS) for the project, which calls for constructing liquefaction facilities with a design production capacity of 12 million metric tons/year [CP15-550].

The Calcasieu Pass Project, which would be built on a 930-acre site in Cameron Parish, LA, would include two 200,000 cubic meter LNG storage tanks; two LNG berthing docks, designed to handle carriers of 120,000-210,000 cubic meter cargo capacity; and a 1,500-foot by 3,000-foot turning basin adjacent to the Calcasieu River Ship Channel. All would be built and operated by Venture Global Calcasieu Pass LLC (VGCP), a subsidiary of Venture Global LNG.

The project also calls for constructing 23.4 miles of 42-inch diameter pipeline to bring feed gas to the terminal site. The pipeline would have interconnections with ANR Pipeline Co., Texas Eastern Transmission LP and Bridgeline Holdings LP. Associated infrastructure would be built and operated by TransCameron [CP15-551].

VGCP and TransCameron filed a joint application for FERC authorization of Calcasieu Pass in September 2015. The project is tentatively scheduled to begin operations in 2022.

Also removed from the agenda prior to the meeting was a proposed certificate for Dominion Energy Transmission's Sweden Valley project, a 120,000 Dth/d expansion that would move more natural gas from Pennsylvania to Ohio to serve growing power generation demand in the Midwest.

The decision to remove the items from the agenda "implies that the Commission presently lacks the votes to advance either project," possibly because of a 2-2 impasse, according to analysts with Washington, DC-based ClearView Energy Partners LLC.

Commissioner Kevin McIntyre was absent from the meeting, which was attended by Republicans Neil Chatterjee and Bernard McNamee, and Democrats LaFleur and Richard Glick. ClearView analysts said they had expected the projects to be approved. FERC could reschedule votes on both projects.

The commissioners took only one vote during the meeting, passing the consent agenda 3-0-1, with McNamee voting "present."

LaFleur's position "appears to remain central to decisions," according to ClearView. "For example, she has not always joined her fellow Democrat-appointed Commissioner (Richard Glick) in dissenting on natural gas project votes, finding it appropriate in some cases to weigh potential greenhouse gas impacts on her own to ascertain whether she can support a project approval."

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