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Cheniere, Freeport File at FERC for LNG Export Projects

Cheniere Energy Inc.'s Corpus Christi Liquefaction LLC (CCL) on Friday filed with FERC for a proposed liquefied natural gas (LNG) export facility near Corpus Christi, TX, and Freeport LNG filed for a project in Brazoria County, TX.

The Cheniere project is being designed for up to three liquefaction trains with an aggregate peak capacity of 15 million metric tons per year. Corpus Christi Liquefaction had received approval from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) in December to commence the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) pre-filing process for the project. Cheniere has also filed applications with the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) requesting multi-contract authorization to export up to 782 million MMBtu of LNG per year from Corpus Christi to all current and future countries with which the United States has a free trade agreement (FTA) as well as to any country with which the United States does not have an FTA in effect.

"Corpus Christi Liquefaction is seeking authorization...to...construct and operate the CCL terminal to...have the capability to liquefy domestic natural gas for export and regasify imported foreign-sourced LNG. More specifically, the CCL terminal has been designed to produce approximately 782 million MMBtu per year of LNG. In addition, the CCL Terminal design includes approximately 400,000 MMBtu/d of LNG regasification capacity," Cheniere said in its filing [CP12-507-000; CP12-508-000].

"After an eight-month pre-filing process with the FERC, we have determined that our site at Corpus Christi meets all of the requirements of an attractive liquefaction project," said Cheniere CEO Charif Souki. "FERC is the lead agency in the permitting process, and we expect to complete the permitting process within 18 months. We have also initiated applications for permits with other cooperating agencies including the DOE and other federal and state agencies as required. Our application with the FERC is the second such application filed to date."

In 2005 the Commission authorized Cheniere's Corpus Christi LNG (CCLNG) import terminal at the same general location of the now-proposed export facility (see NGI, Dec. 19, 2005). "In the April 18, 2005 order, the Commission adopted the final [environmental impact statement] and found both the CCLNG Import Terminal and associated pipeline to be environmentally acceptable if constructed and operated in accordance with the recommended environmental mitigation measures contained in that order," Cheniere said in its latest Corpus Christi filing. "Due to unfavorable market conditions, neither the CCLNG Import Terminal nor the associated pipeline were constructed. In lieu of the CCLNG Import Terminal, Corpus Christi Liquefaction now seeks to construct the [Corpus Christi Liquefaction] Terminal..."

As designed, the project would have three 160,000 cubic meter full-containment storage tanks and two LNG carrier docks. The project would also include a 23-mile pipeline to connect the terminal to multiple interstate and intrastate pipelines. Cheniere Corpus Christi Pipeline LP has requested from FERC a certificate of public convenience and necessity for the pipeline. "The project presents numerous benefits to the public, including the expansion of market outlets and access for U.S. natural gas producers to foreign markets," Cheniere said in its filing [CP12-507-000; CP12-508-000]. "...[T]he project will result in a number of economic and public benefits, including stimulating the regional, state and national economies through job creation and increased economic activity."

Freeport LNG Development LP filed a separate proposal to export LNG [CP12-509-000]. The existing Freeport import terminal is on Quintana Island in Brazoria County, TX. Almost two years ago Freeport LNG and Macquarie Energy said they would develop export capability on the site (see NGI, Nov. 29, 2010). Macquarie Energy is the North American energy marketing and trading arm of Australia's Macquarie Group.

"The liquefaction project will allow Freeport LNG to convert domestically produced natural gas to LNG for storage and export, and will enable Freeport LNG to respond favorably and proactively to short- and longer-term fluctuations in domestic and global gas markets," Freeport said in its filing. "With the recent development of major gas reserves throughout the U.S., natural gas supply is projected to far outstrip domestic demand, and the conversion of excess gas for LNG export provides the opportunity to increase local and regional commerce without compromising the nation's energy resources or stability."

Freeport LNG Expansion LP recently struck 20-year liquefaction tolling agreements with Osaka Gas Co. Ltd. and Chubu Electric Power Co. Inc. covering 100% of the liquefaction capacity of the first train (see NGI, Aug. 6). The initial three-train facility would be capable of liquefying 13.2 million metric tons per year of natural gas. Freeport LNG said it expects that all three trains would be fully subscribed by the end of this year. The Japanese utilities have acquired rights to the 4.4 million metric tons per year of production capacity of the first train at Freeport over an initial 20-year term. Osaka Gas owns a 10% limited partner interest in the liquefaction project.

Cheniere is the only party to have so far secured authorizations from the DOE to export domestically sourced LNG to both FTA and non-FTA countries for the company's Sabine Pass LNG export project in Louisiana (see NGI, Aug. 13a). On Aug. 17 DOE published an updated list of the parties that have sought its approval to export LNG, both to FTA and non-FTA countries. FTA applications add up to 21.3 Bcf/d, and non-FTA applications are for a combined 14.56 Bcf/d, according to the latest tally, which does not include Cheniere's Corpus Christi project.

All of the FTA applications but one, which is pending, have been approved. The non-FTA applications are awaiting completion of a review by DOE of the effect LNG exports would have on domestic gas markets. In early August a bipartisan group of 44 U.S. representatives from Texas, Oklahoma, Louisiana and Arkansas urged (DOE) to expedite the non-FTA approvals (see NGI, Aug. 13b).

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