Freeport LNG gets more time to build fourth train

US energy regulators granted Freeport LNG’s request for more time to build the fourth liquefaction train at its export plant in Texas.

Freeport LNG’s $13.5 billion, three-train facility currently has a capacity of more than 15 mtpa, or up to 2.14 Bcf per day of LNG.

The plant remains shut following an incident at the facility that took place on June 8. The LNG terminal operator delayed the restart of its LNG export plant to November.

Prior to the incident, the terminal owner led by billionaire Michael Smith asked US FERC in May for more time to build the fourth liquefaction train with a capacity of about five mtpa.

FERC said in a filling dated October 13 it had granted “Freeport LNG Development and FLNG Liquefaction 4 a 26-month extension of time, to August 1, 2028, to construct and make available for service the Train 4 Project facilities.”

FERC approved the fourth train in May 2019 and after that granted an extension to Freeport LNG in September 2020 to build and commission the project until May 17, 2026.

However, construction of the new train has not yet commenced, due in “large part to delays stemming from the Covid-19 pandemic,” Freeport LNG told FERC in the filing in May.

48-56 months

Like the first three trains, Train 4 will use electric motors with variable frequency drive for the cooling and liquefaction compression power.

The LNG terminal operator would construct the expansion approximate to the first three trains on Quintana Island and adjacent to the first three pretreatment units at the pretreatment facility near Oyster Creek.

Freeport LNG expects a minimum 48-56 month construction period for the new train.

It said that the “impact of the pandemic on the global community has now waned substantially, and global demand for US LNG has rebounded.”

The firm is actively marketing Train 4 project capacity to a “number of potential off-takers, particularly in European markets, and is in active negotiations with several potential customers,” it said in the filling in May.

New EPC contractor

The terminal operator had originally selected KBR as the preferred bidder for the engineering, procurement, and construction (EPC) contract for the development.

However, due to KBR’s decision to exit the LNG EPC business, Freeport LNG had to conduct another lengthy bidding process for the EPC contract prior to commencing construction of the new train.

Freeport LNG launched this competitive bidding process in early May 2022 with “several world-class engineering and construction companies” in order to receive firm price and schedule proposals for the Train 4 project in early fourth quarter.

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