Energy Department gives final OK for LNG export facility in Cameron Parish

09 10, 2014 by The Times-Picayune

The Department of Energy Wednesday gave a final permit allowing exports of liquefied natural gas by Sempra Energy's Cameron LNG facility in Hackberry, paving the way for the $10 billion project to move forward.

The permits to Cameron and a much smaller LNG export facility planned by Carib Energy in Florida are the second and third issued for export of LNG to nations without free trade agreements with the United States. Earlier, the department approved a permit for Cheniere's Sabine Pass project in Cameron Parish.

The news brought cheers from Louisiana's congressional delegation, including Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La, chair of the Senate Energy and Commerce Committee; Sen. David Vitter, R-La., top Republican on the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee and Rep. Charles Boustany, R-Lafayette, whose third district includes Hackberry.

The company has projected approximately 3,000 on-site jobs, as well as several hundred jobs in Louisiana in support of the project, including fabrication, engineering and operational jobs. Nearly 200 full-time jobs will be added to the operations of Cameron LNG, the company said.

The San Diego-based company pegged the project cost at about $10 billion, including contribution of the existing Cameron LNG facilities, construction of the new facilities and financing costs.

The Energy Department said that the Cameron LNG Terminal in Cameron Parish is authorized to export LNG up to the equivalent of 1.5 billion cubic feet per day of liquified natural gas per day for 20 years.

"Cameron LNG will create thousands of high-paying jobs in Southwest Louisiana, open new markets for American producers, and position the United States as an energy superpower," Landrieu said in a statement. "Today's decision means we can put shovels in the ground immediately and begin exporting this game-changing resource around the world."

Said Vitter: "The Cameron LNG project is a prime example of the economic growth and opportunities available in Louisiana and across our country when we harness our energy resources, Natural gas is arguably the brightest spot in our otherwise weak economy, and moving forward with Cameron LNG will provide thousands of jobs in Louisiana and contribute to more affordable and reliable energy for all Americans."

Added Boustany: "LNG exports will provide good paying jobs and economic growth for all Americans and Louisiana is leading the way. I'm excited that Cameron LNG has completed the approvals process and is ready to begin construction on its state-of-the-art LNG facility."

A senior Energy Department official said that Landrieu had encouraged the department to streamline its approval process for LNG exports.

Federal law generally requires approval of natural gas exports to countries that have a Free Trade Agreements with the United States. For countries without a FTA, the Natural Gas Act directs the Department of Energy to grant export authorizations unless the Department finds the proposed exports "will not be consistent with the public interest."

"Today's decision marks the last major regulatory hurdle for our Cameron LNG liquefaction-export project, clearing the way for execution of the largest capital project in Sempra Energy's history," said Debra Reed, chairman and CEO of Sempra Energy. "This landmark project will create thousands of jobs and economic benefits for Louisiana and the U.S. for decades to come, while delivering natural gas to America's trading partners in Europe and Asia."

Reed thanked Landrieu and other Louisiana officials for helping facilitate federal approval of the project.

Rep. Bill Cassidy, R-Baton Rouge, who is Landrieu's leading Republican challenger in the Louisiana Senate race, said he wants to see more LNG export facility permits issued.

"Increasing LNG exports means more jobs for Louisiana workers and more opportunities to develop our natural resources," Cassidy said. "It also furthers U.S. foreign interests by undermining oil based economy dictatorships. While Cameron LNG's approval is great news for Louisiana, there are too many other LNG export applications waiting to be approved."