Kinder Morgan Inc.’s (KMI) Southern LNG Co. LLC has been granted non-free trade agreement (FTA) export authority for its Elba Island LNG terminal near Savannah, GA, to export up to 130 Bcf/year of liquefied natural gas (LNG).

The long-term, multi-contract authorization from the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) is to run for a period of 20 years. The project earlier this year received Federal Energy Regulatory Commission authorization for the addition of liquefaction and export capability to the existing import terminal as well as for a pipeline expansion to provide feed gas to the terminal for exports. As authorized by FERC, the aggregate maximum liquefaction capacity of the Elba export project equates to about 2.5 million tonnes per annum (mtpa), DOE said.

The 130 Bcf/year non-FTA authorization granted by DOE is less than the requested 182.5 Bcf/year. “…[T]his authorization is estimated by DOE to be equivalent to the maximum annual liquefaction capacity of the export project (2.5 mtpa),” DOE said in its order [12-100-LNG].

The project, which is supported by a 20-year contract with Royal Dutch Shell plc, would have the capability to both export and import LNG. FTA exports have also been previously authorized by DOE.

“…[T]he volume authorized in this proceeding…to non-FTA countries (130 Bcf/year) is not additive to the authorized LNG export volumes set forth in [Southern’s] existing FTA order [12-54-LNG] (182.5 Bcf/year),” DOE said.

Construction on the Elba liquefaction project began in November. KMI executives have said the project could be self-funded by the company or placed into a joint venture.