WASHINGTON Feb 4 (Reuters) - The U.S. Energy Department on Monday granted Pangea LNG permission to export natural gas from a planned terminal in Texas to countries that have existing free trade agreements with the United States.
This routine approval is required by federal law.
Pangea LNG, along with more than a dozen other projects, is still waiting for authorization to export gas to major LNG importers such as Japan, which are not covered by FTAs.
Following its approval of all LNG exports from Cheniere Energy's Sabine Pass terminal, the Energy Department put on hold additional permits for non-free trade agreement countries, which the department has latitude to approve or deny.
The department has said it will begin acting on these export applications after the public comment period wraps up later this month on a study it commissioned on economic effects of shipping gas abroad.
The planned Pangea export terminal on Corpus Christi Bay is being developed through a partnership between Pangea LNG B.V. and Statoil.
It is currently last in line to be considered for full export approval by the department, though, with 15 other applications in the queue ahead of the project.
Pangea LNG said it plans to begin the pre-filing process with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, which must approve the construction of the facility, by the second quarter of 2013.