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    Sempra files with feds for LNG project in Texas

    By: Rob Nikolewski | San Diego Union Tribune

    In another step in its commitment to liquefied natural gas (LNG) projects, Sempra Energy last week filed applications with the federal government to build an LNG facility in Port Arthur, Texas.

    A separate application was also filed with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to construct pipelines to deliver natural gas to Port Arthur, which is one of three LNG projects in which Sempra has made significant investments.

    Sempra’s LNG division has already started construction of an LNG facility in Hackberry, Louisiana, and Sempra is considering adding an export component to its Costa Azúl facility outside of Ensenada, Mexico.

    “Our experience in developing, building and operating energy infrastructure will help us deliver a cost-competitive project to the global LNG market," Ocatvio Simoes, president of Sempra LNG & Midstream, said in a statement.

    Earlier this year, Sempra executives estimated the cost of the Port Arthur facility at between $8 billion to $9 billion, with the project up and running by 2021 or 2022.

    Projects involving "liquefaction" — the process in which natural gas is cooled to minus-260 degrees Fahrenheit and condensed into liquid — have been booming as energy companies look to take advantage of ample U.S. supplies in natural gas and export LNG to countries overseas.

    “Today (the U.S.) is a net gas exporter," said Bernard Weinstein, associate director of the Maguire Energy Institute at Southern Methodist University. “Under a President Trump we should see a speed-up of that approval process and build a couple of more export facilities and become a bigger player in the global gas market."

    The Port Arthur project would include two processing units called “trains” with potential to produce 13.5 million metric tons of natural gas per year, three LNG storage tanks and two berths as well as loading facilities.

    Sempra LNG has partnered with Australia-based Woodside Petroleum to develop the facility and the federal government filings are part of the process to get the necessary permits and clearances to make the project a reality.

    Bill McCoy, president of the Greater Port Arthur Chamber of Commerce, said other projects in the area have taken about five years to go from permitting to groundbreaking but thinks the Sempra LNG project could get the green light in shorter order.

    “I look at it taking maybe a couple of years before they start building, but who knows,” said McCoy, who said the project may create about 4,000 construction jobs.

    Sempra’s Port Arthur facility is one of several LNG projects in the Gulf Coast region by various energy companies. Cheniere Energy Inc. earlier this year became the first U.S. company to export shale gas by tanker and Golden Pass LNG is in the process of retro-fitting its facility for exports.

    “I call it the liquid natural gas gold rush,” McCoy said. “I can be conservative and tell you there is probably $60 billion to $70 billion worth of construction that’s going on” in the area of Port Arthur, Lake Charles, Louisiana and Corpus Christi, Texas.

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