FERC Issues Final EIS on Freeport LNG Projects
The U.S. Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) has prepared a final environmental impact statement for the Liquefaction and Phase II Modification Projects. The Projects are proposed by Freeport LNG Development, L.P., FLNG Liquefaction, LLC, FLNG Liquefaction 2, LLC, and FLNG Liquefaction 3, LLC.
The proposed Phase II Modification Project includes modification to the previously authorized, but not constructed liquefied natural gas vessel berthing dock, LNG transfer pipelines, LNG unloading arms, and the access road system. In addition, Freeport LNG would not construct components of the previously authorized Phase II Project, including vaporization equipment that was approved to increase the Quintana Island terminal’s sendout capacity.
The Liquefaction Project would produce a total of 13.2 million metric tons per annum for export, which equates to a total liquefaction capacity of 1.8 billion cubic feet per day of natural gas. Liquefaction Project consists of the Liquefaction Plant, the Pretreatment Plant, and the Pipeline/Utility Line System, together with the associated appurtenant structures. The Liquefaction Plant would consist of three propane pre-cooled mixed refrigerant liquefaction trains and appurtenant facilities to support liquefaction adjacent to the existing Quintana Island terminal.
In support of the Liquefaction Plant, Freeport LNG proposes to construct a natural gas Pretreatment Plant located about 2.5 miles north of the existing Quintana Island terminal. The Pretreatment Plant would process the gas for liquefaction. In addition, the Pipeline/Utility Line System consists of several interconnecting pipelines and utility lines, including a 5.0-mile-long, 12-inch diameter boil-off gas pipeline from the terminal to the Pretreatment Plant.
The final EIS has been prepared in compliance with the requirements of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), the Council on Environmental Quality regulations for implementing NEPA (40 Code of Federal Regulations [CFR] 1500–1508), and FERC regulations implementing NEPA (18 CFR 380).
The conclusions and recommendations presented in the final EIS are those of the FERC environmental staff. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, U.S. Department of Energy, United States Environmental Protection Agency, the U.S. Department of Transportation, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration – National Marine Fisheries Service served as cooperating agencies in the preparation of the final EIS.
FERC staff concluded that, if the proposed Projects are approved, constructed, and operated, the proposed Projects would result in mostly temporary and short-term environmental impacts. However, the Projects would result in some adverse environmental impacts. The impacts would not be significant except for the traffic and noise impacts on the residents of the Town of Quintana during construction. The principal reasons for our decision include:
- the site of the Liquefaction Plant would be an expansion of an existing, operating LNG import terminal with existing LNG storage tanks and berthing and loading/unloading facilities;
- Freeport LNG would implement its dredging plan to minimize impacts on in-water resources, implement the use of Freeport LNG’s Procedures to minimize construction impacts on soils, wetlands, and waterbodies, and use the horizontal directional drill method to minimize impacts on wetlands and waterways;
- adequate safety features would be incorporated into the design and operation of the Projects;
- the Pipeline/Utility Line System follows the existing sendout pipeline and would be contained within the already disturbed right-of-way;
- the Projects would have no effect or would be not likely to adversely affect any federally or state-listed threatened or endangered species;
- air emissions from the Projects would not exceed the National Ambient Air Quality Standards, and noise and vibration impacts would be minimized as much as practicable; and
- the FERC’s environmental and engineering inspection and mitigation monitoring program for the Projects would ensure compliance with all mitigation measures and conditions of any FERC Authorization.
Press Release, June 17, 2014; Image: Freeport LNG