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Freeport Seeks Swift FERC Action to Enlarge Sendout Pipe of TX LNG Project

Freeport LNG Development LP last Monday urged FERC to expeditiously approve its request to enlarge the diameter of the proposed sendout pipeline that would serve its liquefied natural gas (LNG) import terminal to be sited on Quintana Island in Brazoria County, TX.

Specifically, Freeport LNG has asked the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to act by no later than Dec. 1 of this year on its plea to increase the diameter of the proposed 10-mile pipeline to 42 inches from 36 inches to accommodate future expansion of the terminal project. FERC approved the terminal project and 36-inch diameter pipeline last June (see NGI, June 28, 2004).

Any delay on the Commission's part "would have a cascading effect on the rest of the construction schedule and significantly delay commencement of operation of the Freeport LNG terminal by a minimum of six months to one year," wrote company attorneys in a letter to FERC. Commission action by Dec. 1 is crucial to meeting the company's winter 2007 in-service date for the LNG terminal facilities, they said.

Construction of the sendout pipeline, partially located within a storm protection levee, would be prohibited during hurricane season, which runs from June 1 through Nov. 30, according to the company. It noted that it would have two windows within which to construct the pipeline -- December 2005 through June 2006 or December 2006 through June 2007.

But the latter timeline (December 2006 through June 2007) "would not allow sufficient time for required plant tie-ins, nor would it allow for unanticipated contingencies, such as weather delays and other unanticipated construction or pre-commissioning delays," Freeport LNG said.

Construction of the remainder of the sendout pipeline (located beyond the storm protection levee) is due to begin April 1, 2006 so that line and hydrostatic testing may be completed by Feb. 20, 2007, it noted.

The construction schedule has been "carefully orchestrated" to the "greatest extent possible" in order to start up operation of the Freeport LNG terminal and deliver "much needed new volumes of gas to Texas markets by the winter heating season of 2007 -- goals which [were] fully supported by, and consistent with, President Bush's recently announced energy policy concerning the need for LNG imports," the company added.

The sendout capacity of the proposed LNG terminal would be up to 1.5 Bcf/d. The project would include two storage tanks, each with the capacity to hold 3.5 Bcf.

The 10-mile sendout pipeline would extend from the import terminal to a proposed meter station at Stratton Ridge storage hub in Brazoria County, where the company says there is adequate takeaway capacity on intrastate pipelines. At Stratton Ridge, Freeport said it is considering connections with five intrastate pipelines: Dow Pipeline Co., Kinder Morgan Texas Pipeline Co. LP, Houston Pipe Line Co., Texas Utilities Pipeline Co. and Enterprise Pipeline LP.

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