February 11, 2019 [S&P Global Platts] - Sempra Energy's Cameron LNG export terminal is "very close" to startup and could be ready to begin producing LNG in the next few weeks, project officials said Wednesday.
The US is on the verge of becoming a much bigger global player in the supply of LNG produced from shale gas, with as many as three terminals expected to start up this year in addition to the three currently operating. Total US feedgas demand is expected to rise to nearly 6.1 Bcf/d in 2019, an 80% build compared with 2018, S&P Global Platts Analytics data show.
At the Cameron LNG facility in Hackberry, south of Lake Charles, Train 1 is 99% complete, officials said. While the exact timing for first LNG production and first export is unclear and could be pushed into the second quarter that begins in April, as the operator continues to test equipment, Cameron LNG will be able to move somewhat quicker than some of its peers.
That’s because its storage tanks already have a sizable amount of LNG in them that was left over from when the facility was an active receiving terminal a decade ago. The tanks are cooled down, making it unnecessary for Cameron LNG to bring in an import cargo for that purpose, as Cheniere Energy did when it started up Sabine Pass and Dominion Energy did when it started up Cove Point.
“We feel like we’re very close,” Project Director Jamie Gray said during a briefing and tour of the Louisiana facility.
The current posture is a positive sign for Cameron LNG. The $10 billion project — a joint venture of affiliates of San Diego-based Sempra, France’s Total, Japan’s Mitsui and a company jointly owned by Japan’s Mitsubishi and NYK — faced delays in late 2017 and early 2018. As many as 11,000 workers were on site last summer as contractors McDermott International and Chiyoda pushed to get the project back on track. Sempra’s goal is to have trains 2 and 3 producing LNG by the end of the 2019.
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