Excelerate Energy plans natural gas export vessel for Gulf Coast

Excelerate Energy announced Tuesday that it will develop the nation’s first floating liquefaction facility at Port Lavaca on the Texas Gulf Coast, to export U.S. natural gas.

The vessel will have multiple connections to the onshore natural gas pipeline system and liquefy the fuel on the floating facility, according to the announcement. The Woodlands-based company said its Lavaca Bay liquefied natural gas facility will be ready to export LNG from the United States by 2017.

Excelerate says it is in the advanced stage of engineering and design for the facility and is launching discussion with potential natural gas suppliers, customers and investors. The company plans to immediately begin seeking necessary authorization for exports and permits from the Federal Energy Regulator Commission.

Port Lavaca, about 120 miles southwest of Houston, provides access to the booming south Texas natural gas market and the Atlantic Basin through the Gulf of Mexico, the company noted.

Exporting natural gas from the United States has been a hotly debated issue as the nation has been saddled with a glut of the fossil fuel in recent years, causing its price to plummet. Natural gas has become a cheap energy for industries that use it for manufacturing and homeowners who use it for heating. But exporting it overseas, where natural gas commands higher prices, could generate jobs and revenue for the U.S. economy.

Excelerate Energy’s LNG facility would measure 370 yards long, store up to 8.8 million cubic feet of liquefied natural gas and process up to 3 million metric tons per year. The facility is designed to expand its production capacity up to 8 million metric tons per year.