Sempra Texas Port Arthur LNG export plant passes environmental test

(Reuters) - Sempra Energy’s Port Arthur liquefied natural gas (LNG) export terminal in Texas took a step toward receiving federal approval for construction on Thursday after the U.S. energy regulator issued a final environmental report.

FILE PHOTO - Sempra Energy headquarters is pictured in downtown San Diego, California, U.S., May 17, 2018. REUTERS/Mike Blake

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) report, known as an environmental impact statement, concluded the project “would result in some adverse environmental impacts, but these impacts would be reduced to less-than-significant levels.”

FERC said in a release its commissioners will consider recommendations by the staff when they decide on the project.

Port Arthur includes two liquefaction trains, three LNG storage tanks, the 38.9-mile (62.6-km) Texas Connector pipeline and the 131.3-mile Louisiana Connector pipeline.

Sempra is developing Port Arthur to produce about 13.5 million tonnes per annum (MTPA) of LNG, equal to about 1.8 billion cubic feet per day (bcfd) of natural gas.

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

Port Arthur is among dozens of LNG export terminals under development in the United States, Canada and Mexico that are seeking customers so they can get built over the next several years to meet growing global demand for the fuel.

The United States started exporting the super-cooled gas from the Lower 48 states in February 2016 and is expected to become the world’s third biggest LNG exporter by capacity in 2019, behind Australia and Qatar.

Looking at the plants under construction, U.S. LNG export capacity is expected to rise to 8.9 bcfd by the end of 2019 and 10.3 bcfd in 2020, from around 5.1 bcfd now.

Sempra, which aims to export 45 million tonnes per year of North American LNG, said in December that Polish Oil & Gas Co (PGNiG) entered into a 20-year agreement to buy 2 MTPA of LNG from Port Arthur.

Sempra also said it has signed a memorandum of understanding with Korea Gas Corp for potential participation in Port Arthur and has selected Bechtel to build the project.

In Louisiana, Sempra has partnered with units of Mitsubishi Corp, Mitsui & Co Ltd and Total SA to build three liquefaction trains at the Cameron LNG export facility, which are each expected to enter service in 2019.

Sempra is also looking to add an LNG export terminal at its Costa Azul LNG import facility in Baja California in Mexico.

Reporting by Scott DiSavino; Editing by Leslie Adler and Richard Chang