FERC will create a division focused on liquefied natural gas (LNG), with staff based in both Washington, DC, and Houston, Chairman Neil Chatterjee said Tuesday.

The Division of LNG Facility Review & Inspection (DLNG) would be staffed with 20 employees who already are working on LNG projects at Federal Energy Regulatory Commission headquarters in Washington, DC, and eight new full-time employees based in a new Houston regional office, Chatterjee said.

“As the demand for U.S. LNG and the number and complexity of project applications has grown, the Commission has experienced a similar growth in the need for FERC to expand its oversight in this program area,” Chatterjee said. “Much of the work related to these LNG projects, and the expertise it requires, is based in and around Houston, the so-called ”Energy Capital of the World.’

“For that reason, after careful research and evaluation, the Commission has determined we should direct our newest efforts to recruiting staff in the area to build upon the good work already being done on these issues at our DC headquarters.”

Since April 2018, FERC’s LNG staff has grown to 20 from 13. The staff’s work is “critical to completing engineering reviews, coordinating safety reviews with the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration at the Department of Transportation, and preparing engineering analyses for inclusion in environmental documents,” FERC said.

“The creation of DLNG and expansion in Houston will help prepare FERC for the additional work necessary once LNG project applicants make final investment decisions and move toward construction.”

Postings seeking candidates for the additional staff, starting with the division director, will be made shortly, FERC said.

In March, Chatterjee said FERC was in discussions with Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner to open a regional office.