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U.S. liquefied natural gas (LNG) company Cheniere Energy Inc received permission from federal regulators on Wednesday to return one of two shut storage tanks to service at its Sabine Pass LNG export plant in Louisiana following a leak in 2018.
Specifically, the U.S. Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) granted Cheniere’s request “to commence cooldown of LNG Tank S-101.”
The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) ordered Cheniere to shut two LNG storage tanks on Feb. 8, 2018, after plant workers on Jan. 22, 2018, discovered a one- to six-foot crack in one tank that leaked fuel into an outer layer.
During the investigation of the Sabine site, PHMSA discovered a second tank had also experienced releases of LNG from the inner tank.
FERC and PHMSA have said tank S-103, the other tank shut in 2018, will remain out of service until the regulators authorize its return.
In October 2021, Cheniere agreed to pay the PHMSA’s proposed $1.5 million penalty for alleged violations related to the 2018 leak.
The five tanks at Sabine can hold the equivalent of 3.4 billion cubic feet (bcf) of gas each, or 17 bcf in total. One billion cubic feet of gas is enough to fuel about 5 million U.S. homes for a day.
Cheniere is the biggest U.S. buyer of natural gas and the biggest U.S. exporter of LNG with the capacity to produce about 53 million tonnes per annum (MTPA) of LNG at its two facilities: Corpus Christi in Texas and Sabine. That is equivalent to almost 7 bcfd of natural gas.
The company is also developing the 11.5-MTPA Corpus Christi Stage 3 expansion and is expected to make a final investment decision to build the project later this year.