More LNG export pipelines in the pipeline

As the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission decides whether to approve Dominion Resources’ plan to convert a liquefied natural gas import facility in Lusby, Md., to an export facility, other LNG export projects are already underway and still more are lining up for permission to start work.

FERC last month authorized the construction of an LNG export terminal in Hackberry, La., which is only the second such project to be approved by the commission in the lower 48 states. Cameron LNG, a subsidiary of San Diego-based Sempra Energy, will spend between $9 billion and $10 billion to convert its existing import terminal.

The Cameron project is expected to be fully operational by 2019. 

It and the Sabine Pass LNG plant are the only two export proposals to receive FERC authorization. Houston-based Cheniere Energy’s Sabine Pass project received approval in April 2012 to make the switch. The $12 billion project is under construction and the first phase could be completed by next year. 

Dominion’s Cove Point project could become the third export plan approved by FERC, and the closest to the Marcellus Shale region that covers much of Pennsylvania.

But the pipeline of projects in the works shows more companies are eager to take advantage of global demand for U.S. liquefied natural gas.

More than a dozen other projects are seeking federal authorization, though most are in the Southeast. Nine projects in Texas, Louisiana or Mississippi are currently under FERC review. Another in Georgia and two in the Pacific Northwest are also in line.

Golden Pass Products, a joint venture between Exxon Mobile Corp. and Qatar Petroleum International, became the most recent LNG export project to seek FERC approval. The company plans to build an export plant at its existing import terminal in Jefferson County, Texas. That facility would be less than three miles from Sabine Pass LNG.

Meanwhile, more than two dozen other export projects are coming up behind those that have made it to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. The other projects are either seeking approval from the Federal Transit Administration or the Department of Energy, so they, too, can try for final approval from FERC.

In total, these plans — approved and otherwise — would be capable of exporting 47.8 billion cubic feet of natural gas per day (Bcf/d), according to filings with the U.S. Department of Energy.

The U.S. produced an average of 86.8 Bcf/d in April, the most recent data available, according to the Energy Information Administration, though those figures are expected to grow as shale exploration increases.

Michael Sanserino:, 412-263-1969 and Twitter @msanserino.

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