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Sempra’s Cameron LNG and Carib’s Containerized LNG Project Cleared for Global Exports

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) on Wednesday issued final authorization to Sempra Energy’s large-scale Cameron LNG project and to a smaller Carib Energy LLC project, both on the Louisiana coast, for global exports of domestically produced liquefied natural gas (LNG).

Sempra's Cameron LNG and Carib Energy's projects are the first to receive final permits since 2012, when Cheniere Energy Inc.'s Sabine Pass liquefaction and export terminal in Louisiana received its approval (see Daily GPIApril 17, 2012Sept. 13, 2010). This brings to nearly 4 Bcf/d the amount of authorized LNG exports.

The proposed Cameron LNG liquefaction facilities in Hackberry, LA, were authorized to export 1.7 Bcf/d of LNG for 20 years. Carib received a small-scale export license to transport 0.04 Bcf/d, or the equivalent of 480,000 gallons, in low-pressure ISO LNG containers from its liquefaction facility in Martin County, FL, for the same period.

The announcement Wednesday "marks the last major regulatory hurdle for our Cameron LNG liquefaction export project, clearing the way for execution of the largest capital project in Sempra Energy's history," said CEO Debra Reed.

Earlier this year, Cameron LNG received authorization from FERC to site, construct and operate the three-train facility (see Daily GPI, June 19). The terminal is expected to begin operation in 2018, according to the company.

Carib did not provide a timeline for its project but said it would be shipping LNG to non-FTA countries in the Caribbean, Central America and South America (see Daily GPIAug. 2, 2011).

"Cameron LNG will create thousands of high-paying jobs in southwest Louisiana, open new markets for American producers and position the United States as an energy superpower," said U.S. Senator Mary Landrieu (D-LA). "Responsible LNG exports are critical to the economic future of the United States, and I will continue to work closely with the DOE under its new, streamlined process to secure approval for additional projects in the pipeline as quickly and efficiently as possible."

With Wednesday's authorizations, the DOE has now approved nine non-FTA export projects, but 26 applications still remain under review at the agency. The latest permits followed a decision by DOE in May to streamline its permit application process (see Daily GPI, Aug. 14May 29). The DOE modified its procedure for reviewing applications, and going forward the agency takes a backseat to FERC by no longer issuing conditional authorizations to developers for non-FTA export until FERC completes its environmental review, a process that is more time-consuming and costly than the DOE export review.

DOE had also been facing political pressure with the crisis in Ukraine, which has found Russia periodically threatening to curtail that country’s natural gas supplies (see Daily GPIMarch 24).

"DOE's decision to grant final approval to Cameron LNG and Carib Energy is a positive step toward improving American energy and economic security. In particular, the approval to export 1.7 Bcf/d of LNG from the Cameron facility can help strengthen our standing globally, while creating jobs and advancing the economy right here in the United States," said Frank Macchiarola, executive vice president of government affairs at America's Natural Gas Alliance (ANGA). "We hope that the administration will proceed swiftly with approval for all terminals that are under review so that our nation can seize this window of opportunity to be a major player in global natural gas markets."

U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), the ranking Republican on the Energy and Natural Resources Committee, also hailed the DOE's authorizations and said they go a long way in shoring-up the country's economic security.

"The economic and energy security benefits of exporting LNG to our friends and allies are straightforward," she said. "It appears that [DOE Secretary Ernest Moniz] has been able to take positive steps to right the ship on LNG exports. That's good news for our economy because we can't afford to sit on the sidelines as other countries compete for market share."

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