FERC staff on Friday released a favorable environmental assessment (EA) of the natural gas liquefaction and export project proposed for the existing Elba Island liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminal in Chatham County, GA.

Federal Energy Regulatory Commission staff said the project could be accomplished without undue harm to the environment as long as appropriate mitigation measures are taken [CP14-115, et al]. The project is proposed by Elba Liquefaction Co. LLC, Southern LNG Co. LLC and Elba Express Co. LLC, which are units of Kinder Morgan Inc. (KMI). KMI recently bought out Royal Dutch Shell’s stake in the Elba project (see Daily GPI, July 16, 2015); however, more recently KMI executives said they were in talks to sell a stake in Elba (see Daily GPI, Jan. 28).

The companies plan to add liquefaction and export capability and abandon existing LNG truck loading facilities at the terminal. They also propose to construct new and modified pipeline compression and metering facilities in Hart, Jefferson and Effingham counties in Georgia and in Jasper County, SC. The project would have the capability to export about 2.5 million tonnes per annum.

Phase I of the proposed facilities associated with the LNG terminal includes installation of three liquefaction system units; installation of a flare system and a marine flare; modifications to the LNG terminal; and ancillary facilities and support system modifications. Project facilities associated with the LNG terminal in phase II include installation of seven additional liquefaction system units, ancillary support systems, and potential additions or upgrades to systems installed as part of phase I.

The project would also include construction of facilities on the existing Elba Express pipeline. The Phase I compression and metering facilities would include the addition of 31,800 hp at the existing Hartwell Compressor Station; construction of a 15,900 hp compressor station in Jefferson County; construction of a 15,900 hp compressor station in Effingham County; installation of metering facilities at existing sites in Chatham and Effingham counties, and in Jasper County; and modifications to segregate the two pipelines that currently extend from Elba Island to Port Wentworth, GA. Phase II would include the addition of 15,900 hp of compression at Hartwell. Phase III would include the addition of 15,900 hp at each of the Hartwell, Jefferson and Rincon stations.

As part of its analysis of need for the project, staff considered, among other options, existing and proposed LNG export terminals in the Lower 48. There are many, but none whose existence should preclude the Elba project, staff said.

“There are 11 existing LNG terminals in the Lower 48 states of the United States, including six on the Gulf Coast and two on the East Coast (including the LNG Terminal at Elba Island). All six of the existing Gulf Coast facilities and one East Coast facility, in addition to the [Elba] project, have received or are seeking LNG export authorization,” staff said. “In addition, one new LNG terminal has been approved on the Gulf Coast and 20 other new LNG terminals have been proposed in the Lower 48 states of the United States.”

The U.S. Department of Energy has approved free trade agreement (FTA) exports from the Elba terminal and non-FTA approval is pending, FERC staff noted.

According to a recent update from KMI, the first of 10 liquefaction units is expected to be online during the first quarter of 2018, with the remaining nine units entering service by the end of 2018.