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Another 0.56 Bcf/d Won't Hurt, FERC Tells Sierra Club on Sabine Pass LNG

The Sierra Club was thwarted Thursday in its bid to prevent the Sabine Pass LNG LP terminal in Cameron Parish, LA, from gaining FERC authorization for another 0.56 Bcf/d of capacity.

The Commission denied Sierra's request for rehearing, arguing that its Feb. 20 order approving Sabine's requested increase in maximum peak day liquefied natural gas (LNG) capacity did not run afoul of Section 3 of the Natural Gas Act nor the National Environmental Policy Act [CP14-12].

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission said an environmental impact statement -- rather than an environmental assessment -- was not required. The Commission also said it did not fail to account for the cumulative impact of the expansion.

The Feb. 20 order amended a 2012 order that authorized Sabine Pass to site and construct the facilities (see Daily GPI, Feb. 20; April 17, 2012). "Specifically, the Feb. 20 order approved Sabine Pass's requested increase in the liquefaction project's authorized maximum peak day LNG production capacity to reflect the previously-authorized facilities capabilities under optimal operating conditions," FERC said. The increase is to 2.76 Bcf/d from 2.2 Bcf/d, or 0.56 Bcf/d more.

Added to FERC-authorized capacity at Sempra’s Cameron LNG of 1.7 Bcf/d and at Freeport LNG of 1.8 Bcf/d, plus a small scale export license for Carib Energy LLC to transport 0.04 Bcf/d in containers, brings to 6.86 Bcf/d the capacity FERC has authorized for export from the Gulf Coast.

FERC has regularly rejected the Sierra Club’s arguments against LNG exports in other dockets and that rejection has been upheld in court (see Daily GPI, March 3; July 23).

Analysts at ClearView Energy Partners LLC said in a note Thursday that FERC’s action on Sierra’s request for rehearing is what they expected.

"We anticipate that the DOE [U.S. Department of Energy] could approve the pending non-FTA [free trade agreement] license for the additional capacity in the near future," ClearView said.

But this isn't likely the last that the LNG world will hear from the Sierra Club, they wrote. "We anticipate that the Sierra Club will continue to press its case at the DOE, and potentially in court of appeals that may follow the issuance of non-FTA approvals," they wrote. However, the wording of DOE's recent final non-FTA export approval for Cameron LNG (see Daily GPI, Sept. 10) "...suggests that DOE is not inclined to address environmental concerns by restricting exports, and the Sierra Club's arguments look likely to be denied again."

"The Sabine Pass liquefaction facility is the first LNG export facility to be developed in over 40 years in North America," Cheniere Energy Inc. CEO Charif Souki said Thursday. "Construction is well under way on our first four liquefaction trains, and we expect to have first LNG production by late 2015. Our facility is strategically located along the Gulf of Mexico in Cameron Parish. Louisiana has one of the most liquid natural gas markets, with an abundant supply of natural gas and a vast network of pipeline infrastructure."

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