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Kinder Morgan restarting Georgia Elba LNG export plant units after fire

(Reuters) - U.S. energy company Kinder Morgan Inc said on Thursday it began to restart two of the three units shut after a fire at its nearly $2 billion Elba Island liquefied natural gas (LNG) export plant in Georgia.

Unit 3 began the restart process late Tuesday and Unit 1 is expected to begin the process by the end of the week, Kinder Morgan spokeswoman Katherine Hill said in an email.

“We are conducting an investigation into the cause of the fire and do not have an estimated date for when Unit 2 will be returned to service at this time,” she said.

The fire started in Unit 2 early last week.

Six of the 10 liquefaction trains or units at Elba, including the three shut by the fire, are available for service. Kinder Morgan has said it expects the other four to enter service - about one a month - through the end of the summer.

Since Elba entered service, the plant has sent out three cargoes - one in December and two in January, according to federal data.

Elba, 51% owned by units of Kinder Morgan and 49% by EIG Global Energy Partners, is designed to liquefy about 0.350 billion cubic feet per day of natural gas.

One billion cubic feet is enough gas to fuel about 5 million U.S. homes for a day.

Royal Dutch Shell Plc has a 20-year contract to use the facility.

Including projects under construction, U.S. LNG export capacity is expected to rise to 10.0 bcfd by the end of 2020 and 10.7 bcfd by the end of 2021 from 9.9 bcfd now.

That keeps the United States on track to become the world’s biggest LNG exporter in 2024. It became the third-biggest LNG exporter in 2019, behind Qatar and Australia.

Reporting by Scott DiSavino; Editing by David Gregorio

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