FERC sets schedule for final Alaska LNG order under NGA
The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission said Aug. 31 that it anticipates the issuance of a final order for the Alaska LNG Project on Feb. 6, 2020. This is about a month earlier than the March 8, 2020, date FERC published last March.
The Alaska Gasline Development Corp. filed an application for a permit under section 3 of the Natural Gas Act and Part 153 of FERC regulations on April 17, 2017. The application covers siting, construction and operation of a new LNG export terminal and associated facilities near Nikiski, and construction of some 871 miles of natural gas pipeline and associated facilities.
The project would liquefy and export up to 20 million metric tons of LNG per year.
AGDC had initially hoped to have its environmental impact statement in hand by the end of this year and begin project construction in 2019. AGDC President Keith Meyer told the board earlier this year that the final EIS was now expected in the first half of 2019.
Even that proved too optimistic.
FERC’s first notice of schedule, issued in March, identified Dec. 9, 2019, as the final EIS issuance date, but the commission said Aug. 31 that its staff has revised the schedule for the final EIS issuance based on AGDC “providing complete and timely responses to any future data requests,” and also assuming that cooperating agencies provide their input “on a timely basis.”
The notice of availability for the final EIS is now set for Nov. 8, 2019, with the 90-day federal authorization decision deadline for Feb. 6, 2020.
12 applicationsFERC said Aug. 31 that it had issued environmental schedules for 12 liquefied natural gas export terminal applications, reflecting its efforts to streamline its review process.
FERC Chairman Kevin McIntyre said significant strides in streamlining the commission’s regulatory progress is a response to increasing numbers and greater complexity of LNG applications it is receiving. “These process improvements have shortened projected environmental schedules in some cases by nine to 12 months,” he said.
“There is widespread acknowledgement that the United States is poised to play an important role in serving worldwide LNG demand, and its ability to serve that demand quickly will serve the nations national security and economic interests,” McIntyre said.
FERC has added to its LNG staff. It has also taken steps to save staff time, including: signing an agreement with the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration to coordinate siting and safety review of LNG facilities; hiring an outside contractor to assist in construction inspections; and working with project applicants to hire third-party contractors to conduct analyses.
In late June FERC asked AGDC to consider providing a third-party contractor to assist FERC staff in reviewing engineering design for the Alaska LNG Project.
In addition to the Alaska project, other LNG projects affected by the issuance of regulatory schedules include: Freeport Train 4, Port Arthur, Driftwood LNG, Corpus Christi, Texas LNG, Gulf LNG, Rio Grande LNG, Jacksonville Eagle, Annova LNG, Plaquemines and Jordan Cove.
Alaska scheduleAGDC said Sept. 5 that the revised schedule puts the Alaska LNG project on tract for approval a month earlier than originally anticipated.
“FERC’s accelerated schedule is a strong signal to potential customers and investors that Alaska LNG is steadily advancing through the regulatory process,” said AGDC’s Meyer. He credited AGDC’s technical staff with providing responses to nearly 1,500 FERC data requests and agency comments.
AGDC Senior Vice President Frank Richards said, “FERC’s efforts to streamline its review process is already having a positive impact on the Alaska LNG project,” noting innovative efforts by FERC staff to expedite the process for environmental review and permitting.
- KRISTEN NELSON