Elba Island LNG, one of the six U.S. liquefied natural gas (LNG) export facilities currently under construction, filed a request last week with the U.S. Federal Regulatory Commission (FERC) to begin installation of liquefaction units at its project site by March 10. The project will be using a new technology, developed by Shell, called Movable Modular Liquefaction System. It will consist of ten small-scale liquefaction units (called trains), constructed in two phases. Each train has a capacity to liquefy approximately 33 million cubic feet per day (MMcf/d), for a total project capacity of 0.35 billion cubic feet per day (Bcf/d).
Elba Island LNG, located in Georgia, is the latest of six U.S. LNG export facilities to start construction in the last four years in the Lower 48 states. Construction began in November of last year, after the project received FERC authorization in June 2016 to proceed. The Elba Island export facility is being developed at the site of the existing regasification facility and will therefore benefit from extensive existing infrastructure, including pipelines, storage tanks, and two berths for the docking of vessels. Once the construction is completed, the facility will function as both a liquefaction and regasification facility.
Elba Island LNG is being developed by Kinder Morgan, and will operate as a tolling facility, with the full off-take volume contracted by Royal Dutch Shell under a 20-year contract. As a tolling customer, Shell will be responsible for procuring natural gas feedstock for the facility, and will pay a flat tolling liquefaction fee to the facility owners Kinder Morgan and EIG Global Energy Partners (which own 51% and 49% of the project, respectively). Elba Island received authorization in December 2016 from the U.S. Department of Energy for LNG exports of up to 0.36 Bcf/d to non-Free Trade Agreement (FTA) countries and 0.5 Bcf/d to FTA countries.
The other five liquefaction projects in the United States are in various construction stages. Sabine Pass LNG, which began operations in February of last year, currently has three fully operational trains and two more trains under construction. The fourth train at Sabine Pass is expected to be in service by summer 2017 and the fifth train by the third quarter of 2019. The sixth train at Sabine Pass has been fully authorized, but is not yet under construction. Cove Point LNG, like Elba Island, is also a brownfield facility developed at the site of the existing regasification terminal in Maryland. Cove Point is expected to come online by the end of this year. Three other liquefaction projects—Freeport, Cameron, and Corpus Christi—have multiple trains under construction. Liquefaction capacity from all projects currently under construction is projected to expand by 1.4 Bcf/d in 2017, 1.9 Bcf/d in 2018, and 3.8 Bcf/d in 2019. Once all of these liquefaction projects become operational, the United States is projected to have the third largest liquefaction capacity in the world at 9.4 Bcf/d, after Australia and Qatar.