US LNG exporter Venture Global LNG has shipped 128 commissioning cargoes from its Calcasieu Pass plant in Louisiana since the first quarter of last year, mostly to Europe, while the firm still works to launch commercial operations at the facility.
Calcasieu Pass produced its first LNG on January 19, 2022, moving from FID to LNG production in 29 months, and the first commissioning cargo left the facility on March 1.
In July last year, Venture Global received FERC approval to introduce fluids into the Block 9 liquefaction modules at its Calcasieu Pass plant.
With this, Venture Global received approvals to commission all the 18 modular units configured in 9 blocks.
The plant has a capacity to produce 10 mtpa of LNG or 1.3 billion cubic feet per day (Bcf/d).
75 percent of Calcasieu Pass cargoes landed in Europe
Venture Global sent an update to the US FERC on the status of commissioning at Calcasieu Pass, according to a filling dated March 28.
The company said it has “revolutionized the way that LNG export facilities are built.”
“As a result, we have brought much needed new LNG capacity to the global market years faster than ever done before – and we are proud to have done so safely,” the company said.
“This speed turned out to be critical to global energy markets, particularly in Europe since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine,” it said.
Over the past year, the company has exported 128 cargoes from Calcasieu Pass and these cargoes landed in 24 countries.
“Approximately 75 percent of those cargoes have landed in Europe, supporting our allies during a historic energy crisis,” the firm said.
“Different commissioning process”
Calcasieu Pass has contracts with Shell, BP, Edison, Galp, Repsol, PGNiG, Sinopec’s unit Unipec, as well as CNOOC.
Venture Global said that the firm is still working to launch commercial operations at the facility.
“As a first-of-its-kind facility, Calcasieu Pass’s commissioning process has looked different than any other American LNG facility to come before it,” the firm said.
“In particular, because of its modular, midscale design and on-site power generation (among other reasons), the facility requires substantial testing and a phased commissioning process before it can be expected to be fully operational and confirmed to be prepared to reliably meet its long-term contractual obligations,” Venture Global said.
Over the past year, the site has undergone significant commissioning activities in preparation for an eventual launch of commercial operations in 2023.
“However, as you are aware through our ongoing reporting, and as FERC staff have themselves observed firsthand during their routine site inspections, there is daily corrective, testing and rectification work ongoing at Calcasieu Pass,” the firm said.
While Calcasieu Pass is able to produce LNG, it remains in the commissioning phase because it continues to face “periodic reliability challenges impacting the facility,” it said.
This issue was demonstrated and reported through the failure of the reliability test of the power island reported to FERC last Fall, Venture Global said.
“More recently, we have experienced failures in the 5 horizontal heat recovery steam generator (HRSGs) units that facilitate combined-cycle power generation by converting waste heat in the power island to steam, which drives the facility’s 2 steam turbine generators,” it said.
In November 2022, during normal commissioning activities, Venture Global employees observed water loss from HRSG units 2 and 3.
“We later determined that the water loss resulted from leaks in the welds between the upper carbon steel header and finned tubes of the HRSG units,” the firm said.
“Initially, we sought to contain the weld leaks by accessible weld repair or tube plugging, while asking the supplier, General Electric (GE), to investigate the cause of the leaks,” it said.
“Although these circumstances do not raise any safety concerns, the units will require extensive repairs and replacements before the power island can function reliably and as designed,” Venture Global said.
Commercial ops delayed
This week, Venture Global has notified its long-term customers that, due to the estimated time it will take for GE to resolve the HRSG issues, commercial operations will be delayed.
“As GE conducts the necessary repairs, we will continue to safely commission the facility and, subject to these activities, continue to produce commissioning cargoes of LNG for export,” the firm said.
“We will continue to provide updates through additional communications to ensure the most accurate information regarding the timing for completion and declaration of commercial operations for the facility is shared with our customers and regulators,” Venture Global said.
Calcasieu Pass is Venture Global’s first LNG export plant.
The firm recently took a final investment decision for the second phase of its Plaquemines LNG export plant in Louisiana.
The full project, including the second stage, will have a capacity of 20 mtpa coming from 36 modular units, configured in 18 blocks.
In addition to these plants, the firm is working on two more projects, namely CP2 LNG and Delta LNG.