FERC has approved a Marathon Petroleum Corp. subsidiary’s request to convert the Kenai liquefied natural gas (LNG) export terminal in Alaska to import operations. 

Trans-Foreland Pipeline Co. LLC filed an application to import natural gas earlier this year at the terminal in Nikiski on the Kenai Peninsula. The facility began operating in 1969 and for more than 40 years was the only LNG export terminal in North America. 

Kenai has a liquefaction capacity of 200 MMcf/d, but the plant hasn’t exported LNG since 2015. It’s been idled since Marathon acquired it from ConocoPhillips in 2018. Trans-Foreland wants to construct new facilities, return two 35,000 cubic meter storage tanks and other equipment to service to import up to four vessel loads of LNG annually. The company plans to apply for import approval with the U.S. Department of Energy a month before the conversion project enters service.

The import terminal would have the capacity to take in 1.825 MMBtu of natural gas each year for delivery to Marathon’s Kenai Refinery on the Cook Inlet, 60 miles southwest of Anchorage, AK. The refinery processes mainly Alaska domestic crude to manufacture gasoline, distillates, heavy fuel oil, asphalt and propane.

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission found the conversion project is in the public’s interest and would not significantly impact the environment. The project must be constructed and put into service within two years, according to FERC’s order authorizing the project. 

Commissioner Richard Glick dissented from the order as he has repeatedly since joining FERC in 2017, saying the Commission “is again refusing to consider the consequences its actions have for climate change.”