Sempra Energy begins startup process for Cameron LNG
HACKBERRY, La. — More than 8,000 people are working day and night to bring the Gulf Coast’s third liquefied natural gas complex into operation within the next few months as global demand for LNG grows and U.S. natural gas production surges.
Sempra Energy of San Diego recently received clearance from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to begin the process of starting up its Cameron LNG project along the Calcasieu River Ship Channel here. Sempra officials won’t provide an exact estimate of how long the process could take. But if all goes well, the first of three production units that super-cool natural gas into a liquid could be up an running in as soon as a matter of weeks, with the first shipment to foreign customers to follow soon after.
The goal is to have all three production units in service by the end of the year and LNG on the way to destinations around the globe where it will be used for power plants, industrial customers and homes. The project is being developed as a joint venture between Sempra and four companies from Japan and France
“It’s an important project for Sempra Energy, it’s an important project for the nation and it’s an important project for the world,” Sempra Energy Strategic Initiative Officer Lisa Glatch said.
Cameron LNG is the latest milestone in the Gulf Coast’s emergence as global hub of LNG exports. Cheniere Energy has exported LNG from its Sabine Pass complex in Louisiana since 2016 and last year began shipping from a second complex near Corpus Christi. Meanwhile, several other projects stretching from Louisiana to Brownsville are advancing.
On Tuesday, Exxon Mobil and Qatar Petroleum, the state-owned oil company of the Middle East nation, said they would move ahead with the $10 billion Golden Pass LNG export terminal near Port Arthur.
Cameron LNG’s three production units, which are known in the industry as trains, would produce nearly 12 million metric tons of LNG per year - enough natural gas to power around 10 million U.S. homes for a day. Originally developed as a $900 million LNG import terminal that began commercial operations in July 2009, Sempra decided to take advantage of record natural gas production from U.S. shale basins to get into the export game.
“As you well know, the world has changed we, some through Mother Nature and American technology and ingenuity, have a tremendous supply of natural gas,” Glatch said. “It’s clean burning and in high demand around the world especially from allies in Asia and Europe. Sempra is in a very natural place to step up and take a leadership role.”
Sempra entered into a joint venture with Japanese energy trading firm Mitsui & Co., French refining company Total, Japanese conglomerate and heavy equipment manufacturer Mitsubishi and Japanese shipping company Nippon Yusen Kabushiki Kaisha to develop the export terminal. nearly three years to obtain a federal permit for the project
The LNG export terminal will receive natural gas from Sempra’s Cameron Interstate Pipeline and TransCanada’s Columbia Gulf Transmission Pipeline. So far, crews have installed 1 million feet of pipe, about 7.5 million feet of cable and a quarter million cubic yards of concrete. Before construction on the plant could begin, crews raised the soil at the site 12 to 15 feet above sea level and brought in additional power lines and a substation to deliver 100 megawatts of electricity.
“It’s a huge civil engineering, construction, logistics and procurement effort,” Cameron LNG CEO Farhad Aharbi said. “It requires a lot of patience, a lot of dollars and a lot of know-how.”
Related: JV lands ‘mega contract’ to build $10 billion Golden Pass LNG export terminal
The export terminal is just one of three facilities planned by Sempra as part of a two-coast approach to more export 45 million metric tons of LNG per year by the mid-2020s. In addition to Cameron LNG, the copmany is also developing the Energia Costa Azul LNG facility in Baja California, Mexico and seeking to develop another Gulf Coast LNG terminal Near Port Arthur.
As more nations switch from coal-fired power plants to natural gas, Glatch said demand for LNG is robust.
“In the mid-2020s, there’s expected to high demand and limited supply, that’s a good place to be for projects like ours,” Glatch said. “We’re ahead of the pack.”
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