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FERC Issues Cameron LNG Export DEIS

FERC on Friday released its draft environmental impact statement (DEIS) for Sempra Energy's Cameron LNG export project along the Calcasieu Channel in Hackberry, LA. It recommends multiple mitigation measures for the brownfield project but finds that adverse environmental impacts "would not be significant."

The release also provides clues about the future progress of Cameron and another export project being weighed by the Commission, analysts said.

The proposed facility will use Cameron LNG's existing import facilities, including two marine berths capable of accommodating tankers; three LNG storage tanks of 480,000 cubic meters and vaporization capability for regasification services of 1.5 Bcf/d. The facility will have three liquefaction trains with a total export capability of approximately 1.7 Bcf/d, according to Sempra (see Daily GPI, Dec. 11, 2012).

Cameron LNG is located 18 miles from the Gulf of Mexico and within 35 miles of five major interstate pipelines that serve nearly two-thirds of all U.S. natural gas markets. Commercial operation of the import terminal began in July 2009.

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) recently revised the project's environmental review schedule, resetting the target date for a final environmental impact statement at April 30 from the previously scheduled Nov. 22, 2013 (see Daily GPI, Nov. 25, 2013). Earlier this month the Commission also revised the review schedule for Freeport LNG's FLEX application, setting the date at June 16.

Analysts at ClearView Energy Partners LLC wrote that if FERC follows its internal guidelines, Cameron's Section 3 Natural Gas Act application could be approved late in the first half of this year, and the FLEX approval could come early in the second half of the year. But it could take longer. There is no time limit for FERC to act on a project once the Office of Energy Projects completes environmental documents, ClearView noted.

"Looking back at the last five fiscal years of projects (2009-2013), we identified 78 [environmental assessment (EA)/environmental impact statement (EIS)] actions not covered by blanket certificates," ClearView said Friday. "The FERC acted on 75 EAs and three EIS over this period. Orders have issued as quickly as 31 days after finalization of environmental documents (whether EIS or EA) and have taken as long as 305 days. The average for all projects was 93 days and the median for action was 87 days."

"This is a bit longer than the FERC's internal guidelines to issue orders within 30-60 days of the conclusion of the environmental reviews."

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