Cheniere seeks approval for LNG plant in Corpus Christi

NEW YORK Fri Aug 31, 2012 1:33pm EDT

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Cheniere Energy (LNG.A) has applied for regulatory approval to build a liquefied natural gas export plant at Corpus Christi in Texas, just weeks after it began work on a similar venture at its Sabine Pass plant in Louisiana, the company said on Friday.

Corpus Christi would export up to 15 million tonnes per year of LNG, or about 2 billion cubic feet per day, by the end of 2017 and would comprise three production units, called trains, Cheniere said in a press release.

The Houston-based company has filed for approval with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to build the plant, and with the Department of Energy to export the LNG, which is natural gas cooled to a liquid for shipping.

The FERC review process is expected to take 18 months, according to Cheniere Chief Executive Charif Souki. The plant is expected to be built on the site of a once-planned import terminal that was abandoned after huge increases in domestic gas production erased import needs.

Cheniere's Sabine Pass export plant in Louisiana is the only project in the lower 48 states to have approval to export U.S. natural gas overseas. Earlier this month, it gave the green light to Bechtel Oil Gas and Chemicals to begin construction on the $5.6 billion project which is expected to begin operations in 2015.

Corpus Christi is one of 11 such projects awaiting approval in the United States as gas production continues to outpace demand thanks to output from prolific shale plays that have transformed the U.S. energy outlook.

(Reporting By Edward McAllister; Editing by Tim Dobbyn)

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