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Sempra’s Cameron LNG Export Project Scores Another Approval

Jon C. Ogg

Sempra Energy (SRE) has announced that its subsidiary, Cameron LNG, has received authorization from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) to site, construct and operate a natural gas liquefaction and export facility at the site of the company's liquefied natural gas (LNG) receipt terminal in Hackberry, La. The company's press release indicates that the FERC permit is one of the last major regulatory approvals required to start construction on the natural gas liquefaction facility.

If you want to know just how big this facility will be -- $9 billion to $10 billion!

Thursday's announced authorization approves the development of the three-train liquefaction facility, with an export capability of 12 million tonnes per year of LNG. This is the equivalent of about 1.7 billion cubic feet per day.

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FERC has also authorized a subsidiary of Sempra Energy to construct a 21-mile, 42-inch natural gas pipeline expansion of the Cameron Interstate Pipeline, new compressor station and ancillary equipment that will provide natural gas transportation for the liquefaction facilities.

This is not exactly unexpected, but it is still one more notch on the checklist. Sempra said that earlier this year, the Cameron LNG unit was awarded conditional approval from the U.S. Department of Energy to export LNG to non-free-trade-agreement countries. This includes Japan and European nations.

This will not take place overnight of course. The Cameron LNG website indicates that construction is expected to start in 2014. Then the commercial operations are expected to commence in 2018, with the first full year of three-train production in 2019.

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Subject to a final investment decision to proceed by each party, finalization of permits, project financing and other customary conditions, Sempra Energy will have an indirect 50.2% ownership interest in Cameron LNG and the related liquefaction project. The remaining portion will be owned by affiliates of GDF SUEZ, Mitsubishi (through a related company jointly established with Nippon Yusen Kabushiki Kaisha [NYK]) and Mitsui & Co. (Mitsui), each with 16.6% stakes.

Sempra Energy shares did not rally on the news, with shares down 0.2% at $103.90. Just keep in mind that Sempra has a market cap of $25.5 billion.

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