Feb. 20—Kinder Morgan is one step closer to starting up the first of 10 production units at its Elba Island LNG export terminal in Savannah, Ga.
In an order issued on Tuesday, Federal Energy Regulatory Commission officials gave Kinder Morgan permission to start introducing chemicals into loading pumps that feed a liquefied natural gas storage tank.
Kinder Morgan began the startup process for the export terminal earlier this month. The process is expected to take several weeks and mark the company’s entrance into the burgeoning LNG business.
“This FERC order brings us one step closer to completing the required commissioning activities for the first unit at Elba Island,” Kinder Morgan spokeswoman Katherine Hill said in a statement. “The outlook continues to remain positive as we work towards its in service near the end of the first quarter.”
Originally built as a facility to import natural gas, record production in U.S. shale basins prompted Kinder Morgan to seek permission from the federal government to reconfigure part of the facility into an export terminal. Federal officials gave Kinder Morgan a permit to build the export terminal in June 2016.
Once the 10 production units are operational, the facility will be able to produce up to 2.5 million metric tons of LNG a year.
Kinder Morgan does not produce natural gas or sell it, but instead acts as a middleman charging producers or buyers to move it from one point to another through its pipelines. The company is extending that business model to the burgeoning LNG business along the Gulf Coast.
In the case of Elba Island LNG, Kinder Morgan decided to build 10 smaller and modular liquefaction plants that will supercool natural gas and condense it to a liquid form that makes it easier to ship. Oil and refining giant Shell entered into a 20-year deal with Kinder Morgan to market and export all the LNG produced at the Georgia facility.
Once the the first production unit is online, Kinder Morgan expects to startup the remaining nine productions one by one over nine months time.
Elba Island LNG is coming online at a time of growing global demand for liquefied natural gas. The U.S. LNG industry currently exports 3 billion cubic feet of natural gas a day, but that figure is expected to grow to 17 billion cubic feet a day by 2030 — an increase of nearly 500 percent.
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