Federal regulators have given the all clear to a subsidiary of Houston-based Kinder Morgan Inc. to start service on several facilities related to its Sabine Pass Expansion Project in Louisiana, one day after the midstream company asked for approval to put the remaining project facilities into service.

In the order issued Thursday, FERC said Kinder Morgan Louisiana Pipeline LLC (KMLP) could start service on the bidirectional Columbia Gulf Transmission LLC Meter Station in Evangeline Parish, LA; the bidirectional Texas Gas Transmission LLC Meter Station, the 36-inch diameter low pressure header, the 24-inch diameter high pressure header and the Pine Prairie Tap in Acadia Parish, LA.

KMLP had sought Federal Energy Regulatory Commission approval earlier in November. On Nov. 1, the company placed into service the Sabine Pass Liquefaction LLC (SPL) Lateral and SPL Tap.

In a filing last Wednesday, KMLP requested authorization to place in service the remaining facilities, including Compressor Station 760 (CS 760) and the expanded and bidirectional ANR Pipeline Co. Meter Station (ANR Meter Station), both in Acadia Parish. KMLP indicated that CS 760 and the meter station would be ready to flow gas as of next Thursday (Dec. 6).

In its filing, KMLP said clearing, ditching, welding, pressure testing, backfill/rough grading and coating activities were 90% complete at CS 760, with the remaining restoration activities expected to be complete by late January. Clearing, ditching, welding, pressure testing, backfill, coating and site grading were 100% complete at the ANR Meter Station, and restoration and painting was set to be complete by late December, the company said.

The 135-mile 2.2 Bcf/d KMLP system consists of two pipelines that originate at Cheniere Energy Inc.’s Sabine Pass Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) Terminal in Cameron Parish, LA. One pipeline terminates at Columbia Gulf in Evangeline Parish. The second interconnects with Natural Gas Pipeline Company of America (NGPL) and continues on NGPL through leased capacity to two delivery interconnects near Johnson Bayou, LA.

The Sabine Pass Expansion Project was originally expected to go into service next April but is able to start up earlier because of Cheniere’s expansion to add a fifth train at Sabine Pass LNG progressed more quickly than expected. Train 5 began producing at the facility in late October and should be substantially completed early next year, management said. KMLP has an agreement in place to supply gas to Train 5 next year.

Cheniere two years ago became the first in a wave of U.S. gas export projects when Sabine Pass shipped the first major volumes from the Lower 48. Its LNG export project in Corpus Christi, TX, the third U.S. facility to export gas, began producing in mid-November, but as of Friday (Nov. 30), no exports were underway, even though the Golar Tundra LNG transport vessel had been docked at the facility.

“The Golar Tundra moved for operational and commercial reasons,” a Cheniere spokesperson told NGI. “We expect to complete our first Corpus Christi commissioning cargo soon.”

Cheniere has to date issued final investment decisions for three trains at Corpus Christi. The project is designed to accommodate five trains with expected aggregate nominal production capacity of up to 22.5 million metric tons/year.

Meanwhile, U.S. LNG exports continue to grow. The Energy Information Administration (EIA) reported that in September, domestic exports of the super-chilled fuel were 47.3% higher year/year, with the United States sending 2.7 Bcf/d to 13 countries.