Although it is still awaiting its first commercial cargoes, San Diego-based Sempra Energy’s newest liquefied natural gas (LNG) receiving terminal at Cameron along the southwest Louisiana coast was officially opened Wednesday with the help of Gov. Bobby Jindal and Sempra CEO Donald Felsinger. The $900 million receiving terminal can process up to 1.5 Bcf/d.

Jindal pointed to the Gulf Coast’s newest LNG facility as another indication of what he called the “terrific economic momentum” ongoing in southwest Louisiana. With a second Sempra terminal along the North Baja California Pacific Coast in Mexico, Felsinger emphasized the flexibility that the Cameron facility helps bring to his company as the only North American LNG company that can take cargoes from both the Atlantic and Pacific Basins.

Nevertheless, with the relatively low prices gas imports are currently fetching in North America, there have been no significant shipments so far this year at either Sempra LNG terminal, aside from two test cargoes of 2.8 Bcf each in June and July at Cameron (see Daily GPI, July 31).

Through August of this year, there were only the two commissioning cargoes going through Cameron, according to the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) LNG import/export reports. A DOE analyst said there have been no reports of LNG imports from Italy’s Eni S.p.A, a global oil and gas producer, with approximately 40% of Cameron’s capacity under a 20-year terminal services agreement (see Daily GPI, Aug. 2, 2005). Earlier this summer Sempra indicated the Eni shipments were scheduled to begin soon.

“Cameron LNG represents the most visible of our recent Gulf Coast natural gas infrastructure investments, which also include pipelines, natural gas storage facilities and a natural gas utility,” Felsinger said. Citing a lot of help from local community, elected and regulatory officials in Louisiana, he said Sempra looks forward to working with Louisiana officials on additional projects in the future.

In addition to Cameron, there are several other major projects for southwest Louisiana — Shaw Modular Solutions and a Northrop Grumman KC-10 contract among others, said Jindal, who touted “comprehensive reforms” in the Louisiana business climate for attracting the new large-scale projects.

DOE statistics, however, show why the LNG shipments still haven’t made a dent in the new terminal, with prices for six short-term LNG cargoes in August ranging from $3.30 to $5.10/MMBtu, compared to a range in four January short-term cargoes of $6.14 to $14.35/MMBtu. Prices for shipments under long-term deals had a range of $2.91 to $3.77/MMBtu in August, compared to $5.87 to $7.25/MMBtu in January.

Natural gas processed at Cameron will be used in the Gulf Coast, East Coast and Southeast, Sempra said.

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