Cheniere asks FERC to OK US gas export project next week

Fri Mar 9, 2012 5:36pm EST

* Cheniere says needs green light by March 15

* Could face price increases, project delay

WASHINGTON, March 9 (Reuters) - Cheniere Energy has urged federal regulators to approve construction of its proposed liquefied natural gas export terminal by next week to prevent any project delays.

Cheniere said it needs authorization from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission for the planned Sabine Pass terminal in Louisiana no later than Thursday, March 15, or the project could face "significant price increases."

Such a rise in expenses "may result in delays in the construction of the liquefaction project," the Houston-based company said in a letter to commission chairman Jon Wellinghoff.

Last year, Cheniere's Sabine Pass terminal was the first project in more than 40 years to get permission from the U.S. Energy Department to export natural gas to major importing countries.

At the time, Cheniere chief executive Charif Souki said the FERC approval, which was needed to begin construction, was procedural and the company did not expect any problems with it.

While it was once thought that the United States would need to import LNG to meet is energy demands, advances in drilling techniques have led to a glut of shale gas output in recent years.

In addition to Cheniere, companies such as Southern, BG, Dominion and Sempra are also seeking government approval to export natural gas.

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