FERC approval of a proposed certificate for the Calcasieu Pass liquefied natural gas (LNG) export project in Louisiana by next Tuesday (Jan. 22) is “critically important,” according to a filing by Venture Global LNG.

The project, which was filed in September 2015 after navigating the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s pre-filing process for nearly a year, is “unquestionably” consistent with the public interest, Venture CEO Robert Pender said in a letter to the Commission [CP15-550].

The letter was filed three months after FERC staff issued a final environmental impact statement for the project, which calls for constructing liquefaction facilities with a design production capacity of 12 million metric tons/year.

The Calcasieu Pass Project, to be built on a 930-acre site in Cameron Parish, LA, would include two 200,000 cubic meter LNG storage tanks; two LNG berthing docks, designed to handle carriers of 120,000-210,000 cubic meter cargo capacity; and a 1,500-foot by 3,000-foot turning basin adjacent to the Calcasieu River Ship Channel. All would be built and operated by Venture Global Calcasieu Pass LLC (VGCP), a subsidiary of Venture Global LNG.

The project also calls for constructing 23.4 miles of 42-inch diameter pipeline to bring feed gas to the terminal site. The pipeline would have interconnections with ANR Pipeline Co., Texas Eastern Transmission LP and Bridgeline Holdings LP. Associated infrastructure would be built and operated by TransCameron [CP15-551].

VGCP and TransCameron filed a joint application for FERC authorization of Calcasieu Pass in September 2015. The project is tentatively scheduled to begin operations in 2022.

“The Venture Global Calcasieu Pass Project has secured binding 20-year offtake agreements for 8 metric tonnes per annum of LNG export capacity, with world-class counterparts” that include Royal Dutch Shell plc, BP plc, Edison SpA, Galp, Repsol and Polish-run utility PGNig, Pender wrote.

“We are ready to commence construction of this multi-billion dollar project as soon as authorized by the Commission, providing major employment and financial benefits to the State of Louisiana and to the nation.”

At its monthly public meeting in December, FERC passed a lengthy list of items, but the proposed certificate for Calcasieu Pass was conspicuously removed from the agenda.

“I’m disappointed that we’re not voting on the project today,” said Commissioner Cheryl LaFleur at the time. “Based on the record before us…and my assessment of the legal requirements of the National Gas Act and National Environmental Policy Act, I was prepared to cast a vote on the project.”

The decision to remove the project and a second item from the agenda “implies that the Commission presently lacks the votes to advance either project,” possibly because of a 2-2 impasse, according to analysts with Washington, DC-based ClearView Energy Partners LLC. FERC could reschedule votes on both projects but, according to a preliminary agenda for the scheduled meeting Thursday (Jan. 17), commissioners aren’t planning a vote on Calcasieu Pass.

The death of Kevin McIntyre on Jan. 2 left FERC with only four members: Republicans Neil Chatterjee and Bernard McNamee, and Democrats LaFleur and Richard Glick. The White House has given no indication who President Trump may nominate to fill the vacant fifth seat at FERC, but it is a foregone conclusion that it will be a third Republican.

Among those rumored to be under consideration for nomination in September in addition to McNamee was Art Graham, chairman of the Florida Public Service Commission.