U.S. FERC set to approve construction of four LNG export projects in Texas

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(Reuters) – The U.S. Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) is scheduled on Thursday to vote on four proposed liquefied (LNG) export facilities in Texas totaling about 6.2 billion cubic feet per day (bcfd) of capacity.

The projects are NextDecade Corp’s (O:) 3.6-bcfd Rio Grande, Cheniere Energy Inc’s (A:) 1.5-bcfd Corpus Christi Midscale, Exelon Corp’s (O:) 0.8-bcfd Annova LNG Brownsville and Texas LNG’s 0.3-bcfd Brownsville.

One billion cubic feet is enough gas to supply about 5 million U.S. homes for a day.

Analysts at Height Capital Markets in Washington, D.C. said in a note that the majority-Republican commission is likely to approve all four facilities with a likely holdout from Democratic Commissioner Richard Glick in line with the recent trend.

The three Brownsville proposals (Rio Grande is a Brownsville plant) are to build greenfield projects along the Brownsville Ship Channel to receive gas from the nearby Permian and Eagle Ford shale basins and have faced concerns from environment and safety advocates.

To gain approval, the Brownsville projects have taken steps like pledging land for the preservation of endangered big cats – jaguarundis and ocelots – that live in the South Texas area.

In July, FERC Chairman Neil Chatterjee created a new division of LNG Facility Review & Inspection to address the rising volume and complexity of LNG projects for approval, Height Capital said.

Last week, FERC issued the final environmental review for Pembina Pipeline Corp’s (TO:) 1.0-bcfd Jordan Cove LNG export project in Oregon.

The projects FERC is expected to approve on Thursday are just four of more than four dozen LNG export projects under development in the United States, Canada and Mexico.

Just looking at the projects under construction, U.S. LNG export capacity is expected to rise to 6.9 bcfd by the end of 2019 and 9.6 bcfd by the end of 2020 from 6.8 bcfd now.

That keeps the United States on track to become the third biggest LNG exporter in the world in 2019, behind Qatar and Australia, and the biggest supplier of the fuel in 2024.

This week, the Senate energy committee approved the nomination of Republican James Danly to the five-person commission, sending it to the full Senate where Height Capital said he is expected to be approved for a term through June 30, 2023.

The President still has not nominated a candidate for the remaining Democratic vacancy at FERC, Height Capital said.

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