UPDATE 2-Sempra applies for liquefaction permit

Mon Dec 10, 2012 4:49pm EST

NEW YORK Dec 10 (Reuters) - Sempra Energy said on Monday it applied to receive U.S. government approval to construct export facilities at an existing gas import terminal in Louisiana.

If approved, it would be the second such project to receive federal approval to export domestic U.S. gas supplies.

The U.S. Federal Energy Regulatory Commission permit would allow the company to begin construction at its Cameron liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminal in Hackberry, Louisiana.

Sempra plans to build three "trains" to liquefy natural gas and send it abroad with a total export capacity of 12 million tonnes per year, or about 1.7 billion cubic feet per day.

In January, Sempra received U.S. Department of Energy approval for an LNG export license to send gas to countries with which the U.S. has a free trade agreement (FTA).

Sempra is waiting for DOE authorization that would allow it to export LNG to non-FTA countries.

Other permits that the company needs to obtain for the project include an air quality permit from the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality, a coastal use permit issued by the Louisiana Department of Natural Resources and a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers permit, a company spokesman said.

It expects to start delivery of gas to global markets by 2017.

In April, Cheniere Energy received FERC approval to go-ahead with construction to build gas export facilities at its existing LNG terminal in Sabine Pass, Louisiana.

Sempra's permit application comes less than one week after the U.S. Department of Energy released a commissioned study painting an overall favorable view of U.S. gas exports.

U.S. natural gas production has ballooned in the past few years as producers have worked to perfect technology to unlock gas deposits trapped between horizontal layers of rock below ground.

Prices in the United States have not risen above $4 per million British thermal units this year, while markets in Europe and Asia fetch prices two-to-three times as high and sometimes higher.