Feds attempt to speed up LNG facility permitting

Federal energy regulators have issued environmental schedules for 12 proposed LNG export facilities, including two in Louisiana, in an effort to approve plans more quickly.

Driftwood LNG, a planned $15 billion megaproject on the Calcasieu River near Lake Charles, and Venture Global LNG, an $8.5 billion project on the west bank of Plaquemines Parish, were issued schedules by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. Ten other projects, in Texas, Mississippi and Alaska, also received the guidance.

Those two projects in Louisiana could land final approval next year. The decision deadline for Driftwood LNG is April 18, and the deadline for Venture Global is August 1.

FERC said the schedules reflect the agency’s efforts in recent months to “streamline” its review process for LNG project applications.

The agency has struggled through a backlog of hundreds of applications in recent years, drawing the ire of industry. Environmental advocates have also railed against the agency’s process, accusing it of greasing the wheels for industry.

FERC has added several staffers and increased its focus on reviewing LNG applications, the agency said.

The “process improvements” have shortened projected environmental schedules by 9 to 12 months in some cases.

Dozens of firms are eyeing multi-billion dollar LNG megaprojects in Louisiana and elsewhere, as global demand is set to reach a high water mark in the early 2020s.

Not all of the 10 or so projects planned for Louisiana will materialize, and experts say the firms that can land long-term purchase agreements with other countries will move forward. The first U.S. LNG export facility, Cheniere Energy’s Sabine Pass LNG, went into service in Louisiana in 2016.

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