Sempra moves forward with Port Arthur LNG plans

Sempra Energy is pressing forward with plans to build a liquefied natural gas plant and export facility in Port Arthur.

The San Diego-based energy company has asked the federal government to start reviewing the plans for its proposed LNG project on a portion of the company’s existing 2,900 acres in Port Arthur, the company announced Monday.

Before the shale boom flooded the market with cheap, abundant supplies of natural gas, Sempra Energy planned to import the supercooled liquefied gas to its Port Arthur site, warm it back to its gaseous state and ship it out via pipeline. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission certified the company’s plans in 2006 to build the regasification facility and pipeline.

The company now is proposing to build two natural gas liquefaction trains capable of producing 1.4 billion cubic feet of liquefied gas per day, or 10 million tons per year. Plans also call for two 160,000-cubic-meter storage tanks, facilities for marine vessel berthing and loading and turbine generators so the plant can make its own electricity.

Port Arthur LNG, a subsidiary of Sempra, has asked FERC to start the pre-filing review, a necessary first step before construction can begin. The company has also asked the federal government for permission to export to countries with which the United States has free trade agreements, and plans to submit another application in the coming months to request approval to export to non-Free Trade Agreement countries.

“If we are successful, the project would provide long-term economic benefits and create new jobs in the region, while strengthening America’s role as a global energy leader,” Sempra LNG President Octavio M. Simoes said in a statement.

The Port Arthur plant is the latest LNG project for Sempra Energy, which is building a three-train liquefaction plant at its existing import terminal in Hackberry, Louisiana. The $10 billion Cameron LNG project has the capacity to produce 9.97 million metric tons per year of liquefied gas. The company last month asked for federal approval to expand the project to five trains capable of producing 24.92 million metric tons of gas per year.

Before starting construction in Port Arthur, the company needs to secure all the necessary permits and approvals, obtain financing and complete commercial agreements to sell its gas, Sempra Energy said in its announcement.