Louisiana gas export project gets final OK

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) on Thursday approved the Cameron liquefied natural gas (LNG) export project in Hackberry, La., the final federal hurdle for the project.

Sempra Energy had previously received a conditional permit from the Department of Energy (DOE) to export LNG from the existing plant to countries with which the United States does not have a free-trade agreement.

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The Cameron project is only the second one in the contiguous United States to export LNG to countries without such agreements.

“This is a landmark project that will bring economic prosperity and create thousands of jobs in Louisiana,” Debra Reed, chairwoman and chief executive officer of Sempra Energy, said in a statement. “Today’s approval is another important step in delivering natural gas to America’s trading partners abroad.” 

FERC also allowed Sempra to build a new 21-mile gas pipeline expansion and compressor station, along with related equipment.

The Cameron plant plans to liquefy and export up to about 15 million metric tons of gas per year. The facility is still subject to final decisions by Sempra and its minority owners, the finalization of permits, and other conditions, Sempra said.

The first liquefaction equipment would become operational in 2017 under Sempra’s plans.

In Congress, Republicans and some Democrats are pushing to increase LNG exports and expedite the DOE and FERC approval processes.

FERC previously approved in 2012 the Sabine Pass project, a Louisiana-based LNG export facility owned by Cheniere Energy Inc. It is under construction.