HOUSTON — An Exxon Mobil Corp. venture seeking to export natural gas from a facility near the Louisiana-Texas border has asked for a permit from a key federal regulator.
Golden Pass Products said it has asked the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission for permission to build and operate a liquefied natural gas export plant at the site of its existing import terminal at Sabine Pass in Jefferson County.
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The complex FERC application will require environmental impact assessments, reviews by other agencies and public comment periods, with the whole process expected to take about 18 months.
Just filing the massive application is a major milestone for any company seeking to export natural gas to countries that don’t have free trade agreements with the United States. Only a handful now have proposals pending at the agency, and just two have made it through the long, expensive FERC reviews.
Eric Pletcher, president of Golden Pass LNG, called the FERC filing “a key step toward making the project a reality.”
“To succeed in the permitting process requires years of work and investment and the determination of a strong team,” Pletcher said in a news release.
Golden Pass, a joint venture of Exxon Mobil and Qatar Petroleum International, is still waiting on a separate export license from the Energy Department that would permit it to sell natural gas to Japan and other countries without U.S. free-trade pacts.
The $10 billion project is one of the main beneficiaries of the Energy Department’s plan to change the way it vets such export applications by prioritizing reviews on the most commercially mature projects that have gotten through FERC environmental reviews. Under a first-come-first-served review plan the department is aiming to replace, Golden Pass is ninth in line for review, a position that might have put decisive action nearly two years away.
Houston-based Cheniere Energy already has begun construction on a liquefaction plant and export terminal at its existing import facility just across the state line from Golden Pass in Cameron Parish, La.
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