FERC has scheduled the Freeport LNG natural gas liquefaction and export project for environmental review with a final environmental impact statement (EIS) to be made available Dec. 27, which means it could be nearly a year before there is a final FERC decision on facilities construction.

Last week, the Quintana Island, TX, project of Freeport LNG Development LP, Freeport LNG Expansion LP and FLNG Liquefaction LLC (collectively Freeport) received U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) approval to export liquefied U.S. gas to countries that are not parties to a free trade agreement (FTA) with the United States (see Daily GPI, May 20). It is the second liquefied natural gas (LNG) export project to receive such authorization, which is considered by backers of most proposed projects to be necessary to move forward.

“…[T]he Federal Energy Regulatory Commission…is alerting agencies that issue federal authorizations of the requirement to complete the necessary reviews and issue their permits and/or authorizations within 90 days of the date of the issuance of the Commission staff’s environmental impact statement (EIS) for the liquefaction project [by March 27, 2014],” FERC said in its Freeport EIS notice Wednesday.

After the 90-day period the FERC commissioners may study and vote on the application.

The first export project to receive DOE authorization for non-FTA exports was Cheniere Energy’s Sabine Pass LNG project in Cameron Parish, LA (see Daily GPI, May 23, 2011). That project received from FERC its Natural Gas Act Section 3(a) authorization to begin construction in April 2012 (see Daily GPI, April 17, 2012). On Wednesday, Cheniere filed its monthly progress report for April on the project with FERC.

According to the report that chronicles progress in the year since it received its certificate, Sabine Pass project engineering is 55.9% complete, procurement is 48.5% complete, subcontracting and direct-hire construction work are 18.4% and 1% complete. The overall project is 29.6% complete, putting it “slightly ahead” of the target engineering, procurement and construction schedule, Cheniere said in the filing.

DOE has numerous other non-FTA export applicants in its queue. However, how quickly the agency will act on the remaining projects is unclear (see Daily GPI, May 22). New Energy Department Secretary Ernest Moniz this week said he may put the other non-FTA export applications on hold until he can review studies by DOE and others on the impact of exports on domestic prices and supply. Under pressure at his confirmation hearing in April, Moniz committed to review the department’s studies of natural gas exports, which some have said are based on outdated information and failed to examine the regional impacts of exporting LNG.

DOE is giving priority to projects that have received approval by Dec. 5, 2012 from FERC to use the Commission’s pre-filing process. These projects are lined up at DOE in the order in which DOE has received their applications.

Next in line at DOE are Lake Charles Exports LLC (see Daily GPI, April 10, 2012), Dominion Cove Point LNG LP (see Daily GPI, Jan. 7), a Freeport LNG capacity expansion, Cameron LNG LLC (see Daily GPI, Dec 11, 2012), and Jordan Cove Energy Project LP (see Daily GPI, Aug. 31, 2012).

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