Lake Charles LNG Facility Scheduled for Upgrade

The largest liquefied natural gas (LNG) import terminal in the United States just received authorization from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) to become even larger. CMS Trunkline LNG will expand the peak send-out capacity of its terminal in Lake Charles, LA, this summer to 1 Bcf/d from 700 MMcf/d (see NGI, Feb. 26).

"Increasing our daily natural gas send-out capability to 1 Bcf will enable us to have greater efficiency, flexibility and reliability to serve growing customer demand and provide our customers with more options," said Christopher A. Helms, president of the CMS Panhandle Pipe Line Co.

Modifications to the CMS Trunkline LNG facility will eliminate operational bottlenecks in the regasification process. LNG receipt capability of 90 ships per year and storage capacity of 6.3 Bcf will not be affected. CMS Trunkline LNG expects to begin the modifications immediately and have the 1 Bcf/d peak capacity available by June of this year. The modifications will not impact current terminal operations. The company is evaluating further expansion to increase daily send-out capacity to 1.3 Bcf/d.

In 2000, there were 55 LNG tanker ships unloaded at the CMS Trunkline terminal, and it is anticipated that the level of shipments will be higher in 2001.

The Lake Charles facility upgrade is one among many LNG projects --- involving both existing and new facilities --- that have been planned because of high gas prices in the United States. There has been a frenzy of activity, including plans to recommission two mothballed terminals: Cove Point LNG in Maryland and Southern LNG's terminal at Elba Island, GA.

There have also been several ownership changes at existing plants and multiple announcements of new facilities, including Enron's plan for an LNG facility in the Bahamas and pipeline to Florida, and El Paso Corp.'s recent announcement that it plans to build six new LNG import terminals at various locations across the United States. Chevron also recently said it is examining the possibility of building a new LNG terminal in California (see NGI, March 26; Feb. 12; Feb. 5).

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