Kinder Morgan gets FERC approval on LNG export project

Houston-based Kinder Morgan said Thursday it received federal approval for its $2 billion project to export liquefied natural gas from Georgia.

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission authorized Kinder Morgan’s Elba Liquefaction Project that will liquefy natural gas and export the product from Elba Island, which is near Savannah, Georgia.

The first of 10 liquefaction units is expected to start operations in the spring of 2018, with the project coming fully online by the end of that year. The project involves converting the existing import terminal at Elba Island. Kinder Morgan already has a 20-year deal with Royal Dutch Shell to purchase LNG. The terminal is expected to produce about 350 million cubic feet a day of LNG.

Construction could begin within 60 days after the final regulatory approvals are granted, said Kinder Morgan spokesman Richard Wheatley.

Earlier this year, Kinder Morgan said it hoped to sell a stake in the project to private equity groups to help with the financing. The idea is to cut capital costs amid the ongoing oil bust.

Originally, the project was a 51-49 percent joint venture between majority owner Kinder Morgan and Shell. Kinder Morgan bought Shell’s interest in July, but Shell kept the 20-year contracts to buy the LNG.

FERC also signed off on $306 million in Kinder Morgan projects to expand its natural gas pipeline system in the Southeast, as well as to build a compressor station to serve the Elba Island project.