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US issues landmark LNG permits on path to being the World No. 1

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LNG Journal editor

US LNG exports received a regulatory boost when Cheniere Energy Corpus Christi expansion was approved along with three other development projects in Texas proposed by NextDecade Corp., Texas LNG Brownsville and Annova LNG. With other projects under construction, the US is on track to be the world’s No. 1 exporter by 2025 and beyond with output of over 120 million tonnes per annum. 

Cheniere’s Stage 3 expansion of its Corpus Christi export facilities will take the Houston-based company to 52 million tonnes per annum of output by around 2024 at the same time as three other Texas projects cleared their final regulatory hurdles for a total of 37 MTPA of output.

Proposals

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission approved Cheniere’s Stage 3 project comprising seven mid-scale liquefaction Trains adjacent to the Corpus Christi plant, each with an expected nominal production capacity of around 1.4 MTPA of LNG.

The total expected nominal production capacity of the seven mid-scale Trains is around 10 MTPA.

“The Corpus Christi Stage 3 site is adjacent to the three liquefaction Trains operating or under construction at the Corpus Christi Liquefaction Project, and together the two projects are expected to have a total nominal production capacity of approximately 25 MTPA,” said Cheniere.

With the 27 MTPA from the completed six Trains at Sabine Pass and the Corpus Christi Trains, Cheniere’s output rises to 52 MTPA, making it the third-largest in the world behind the nations of Australia currently with 80 MTPA and Qatar with 78 MTPA, though ahead of Malaysia with 24.5 MTPA.

The only other US company with comparable plans to Cheniere is California-based Sempra Energy with Cameron LNG in Louisiana, the Port Arthur venture in Texas and the Costa Azul project in Mexico with targeted volumes of 45 MTPA.

Cheniere’s President and Chief Executive Jack Fusco said his company was pleased to receive regulatory approval from the FERC, opening the way to a positive final investment decision for the Stage 3 venture.

“Our continued progress on Corpus Christi Stage 3, including the regulatory approval and our continued commercial success, is a testament to the global competitiveness of the project and reinforces our confidence in our ability to expand our world-scale liquefaction platform in Corpus Christi,” stated Fusco.

The other export projects around the Texas Port of Brownsville also moved forward
comprising multiple liquefaction Trains and almost $39 million of investment to create thousands of jobs on the Gulf Coast.

Texas LNG Brownsville, Annova LNG and NextDecade’s Rio Grande project, as well as its associated Rio Bravo Pipeline, were all approved by the FERC and represent a huge investment in the Rio Grande Valley.

The largest plant approved was the Rio Grande LNG export facility in Brownsville with 27 MTPA of production and its associated Rio Bravo Pipeline with 4.5 billion cubic feet per day of transport capacity from the Agua Dulce natural gas hub to the plant.

“Issuance of the FERC order marks an extremely important milestone for our project,” said Matt Schatzman, Chairman and Chief Executive of Rio Grande LNG development company NextDecade.

NextDecade said it anticipated finalizing commercial deals from the fourth quarter of 2019 prior to an anticipated final investment decision in the first quarter of 2020.

The smaller Texas LNG Brownsville venture with 4 MTPA of output said the approval vote by the FERC followed comprehensive environmental, safety and other reviews of extensive engineering and design information.

“With the Texas LNG Brownsville project, we are developing a mid-sized LNG export facility to better connect abundant and low cost US natural gas with the world’s growing appetite for clean fuels, and we are so pleased to have reached this important milestone that paves the way for a final investment decision,” said Texas LNG Chief Executive Vivek Chandra.

The third project moving forward is the Annova LNG venture that made several voluntary conservation measures to satisfy the US Fish & Wildlife Service during the FERC approval process.
These included expanding its lease and modifying its project layout to establish a 185-acre environmental conservation corridor, where existing dense thorn-scrub and other habitats, including over 100 acres of wetlands, would be preserved.

“Our mission is to be the most sustainable US provider of LNG, and this official opinion reflects our close consultation with the Wildlife Service over the past several years to protect and conserve habitat in the Rio Grande Valley,” said Omar Khayum, CEO of Annova.

The Annova liquefaction plant will process 6 MTPA of LNG at the Brownsville site.

The development company also has investment-grade equity owners, including Chicago-based power company Exelon Corp., LNG equipment provider Black & Veatch Corp. of Kansas and US plant construction company Kiewit Corp.

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