Nearly two years after receiving U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) authorization to export liquefied natural gas (LNG) from its Golden Pass LNG terminal in Sabine Pass, TX, to countries with which the United States has free trade agreements (FTA), Golden Pass Products LLC has applied to FERC for authority to construct and operate those LNG export facilities.

The Golden Pass Terminal Complex would include both LNG import and export facilities, according to filings submitted to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. Golden Pass is proposing to construct and operate three liquefaction trains with a total production capacity of 15.6 million tons of LNG per year, and to modify existing import terminal facilities at the Golden Pass LNG site. New infrastructure required to export would be located on the existing property, which currently contains two berths for LNG tankers, five storage tanks and access to the Golden Pass pipeline. Golden Pass Pipeline LLC has filed an application with FERC to construct and operate compression and looping facilities on its existing interstate pipeline in Texas and Louisiana and to modify some existing interconnection facilities to provide for bidirectional service in conjunction with the LNG complex.

A final investment decision will be made following government and regulatory approvals, Golden Pass said. The Houston-based company asked FERC to issue a final order by July 1, 2015 "to allow for completion of construction, testing and final commissioning of the project facilities to achieve commercial startup of Train 1 by September 2019, Train 2 by March 2020, and Train 3 by September 2020."

Golden Pass project shareholders include Qatar Petroleum International (QPI) (70%) and Exxon Mobil Corp. (30%).

The long-awaited formal application comes as FERC, which has final authority to approve the siting of facilities for import or export of natural gas, conducts an environmental analysis of the proposed project. Golden Pass applied for DOE authorization to export LNG to FTA countries in August 2012 and was granted that authority two months later (see Daily GPIAug. 21, 2012Oct. 9, 2012). Golden Pass is awaiting DOE approval to export to non-FTA countries.

If developed, the Golden Pass project would represent about $10 billion of investment on the Gulf Coast. The project would generate about 9,000 construction jobs over five years with peak construction employment reaching about 3,000 jobs, Golden Pass said.

Last year, Golden Pass and its backers struck a framework agreement for the sale of potentially the full output of the proposed LNG export project (see Daily GPIMay 10, 2013). The arrangement also provided shipping and sales opportunities to existing and new markets, including leveraging the project sponsors' long-term arrangements for international imports via the United Kingdom's South Hook facility, Golden Pass said.

An April 2013 report from Wood Mackenzie concluded that spending to create new natural gas liquefaction capacity in the United States may get QPI more bang for the buck than developing additional liquefaction projects at home (see Daily GPIApril 23, 2013).

The Golden Pass LNG import terminal and pipeline were completed and became operational in 2010 (see Daily GPI, May 11, 2011; Nov. 2, 2010).