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In the News

Cameron LNG liquefaction train commissioning

By Cyndi Sellers & Stephanie Rodrigue

A little more than four years after groundbreaking, Cameron LNG is beginning to commission the first liquefaction train of its $10 billion Hackberry export facility.

The commissioning process is the gradual bringing on line of all the elements which will make the facility operational. The train is one of three in Phase 1, and construction will continue on the other two trains during commissioning, so the process will require careful timing for the safety of the facility and the community, said Project Manager Jamie Gray.

To date, the massive, two-mile long project has utilized one million linear feet of pipe, 7.5 million feet of cable, and 240,000 cubic yards of concrete, with 27,000 piles installed to support the equipment. The facility is built to a 12 ft. elevation to mitigate a 500 year storm surge, and is designed to withstand a Category 5 hurricane, per federal regulation. The 11,000 workers needed at peak construction have been ramped down to 8,000 - still a very large work force.

The liquefaction train will receive natural gas from interstate pipelines and first remove dust, water and pollutants, then carbon dioxide and more water, and finally heavy hydrocarbons, which are trucked away. Then the liquefaction begins as the gas is cooled to -260 degrees and becomes a clear liquid. The liquefied natural gas (LNG) is stored in large tanks until it can be loaded onto ships and delivered to customers throughout the world.

Part of the process includes burning of excess gas at times, and Cameron LNG will use three “ground flare” units instead of the more familiar tower flares. The flames will not be visible and will not make noise. The ground flares are more environmentally friendly and more economical, said Gray.

In a few short weeks, the first cargoes will ship out of the facility and “connect the community of Hackberry to the four corners of the world,” said CEO Farhad Ahrabi. He described four “buckets of work” that have come together to “make Cameron LNG a respectful and responsible operator.” They are: 1. Design, engineering, procurement, and construction; 2. Recruiting, training and developing staff; 3. Finance, human resources, and maintenance system creation; 4. Building a culture and leaving a legacy, creating a “culture by design, rather than a culture by default”.

A new three-story visitors center with viewing decks is being built by contractor Alfred Palma. It will allow invited guests and field trips to view the facility from a safe place, and will include interactive exhibits and virtual reality experiences.

Cameron LNG is owned by Sempra Energy, Total, Mitsubishi Corporation, and Mitsui & Co., Ltd., and has signed 20-year tolling agreements with Total, Mitsubishi and Mitsui for the facility’s liquefaction capacity. When all three trains are operational, hopefully by the end of the year, the facility will be capable of producing 14.95 million tonnes per annum, or approximately 2.1 billion cubic feet per day, of LNG.

The commercial outlook for LNG looks robust through the 2020s, said Lisa Glatch, Sempra Energy Strategic Initiative Officer, with large demand and small supply. Cameron LNG “is a super important project,” she said. “Important for Sempra, important for the nation, important for the world.”

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