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Freeport LNG Faces More Regulatory Hurdles Before Restart

The Freeport LNG export terminal faces a long list of new regulatory requirements it must meet before restarting.

Freeport said last month that it was targeting initial production at its facility sometime in mid-December, with full production utilizing both docks expected sometime in March 2023.

The 15 million tonne-per-year Freeport LNG plant has been shuttered since June 2022 after being rocked by an explosion. At that time, Freeport was targeting a Fall restart.

But now, the U.S. energy regulator FERC has notified the company of a rather long list of regulatory conditions that must first be met before the plant can be restarted. FERC, along with the Coast Guard and the Pipeline Hazardous Materials Safety Administration,  visited the facility on November 30. On Monday, FERC responded to that visit by sending a request to Freeport for information or documents for a list of 64 different items.

According to FERC, there will be no restart authorization given until after FERC has reviewed Freeport’s responses to those questions and has proven that it has put into place “acceptable measures” to safely restart the facility.

Freeport has not issued an updated timeline for its restart, responding only to a Reuters inquiry with the fact that there was “nothing new to report.”

Freeport’s latest disclosed plans call for a mid-December partial restart, working up to a 2 Bcf/d operational rate in January and a full restart in March. 

The Freeport closure has been hard on Europe, which has acutely felt the drop in LNG exports as it tries to wean itself off Russia while preparing for this winter’s heating season. But Europe saw some natural gas price relief earlier this week, with a 9% price slump, as LNG imports rose along with increasing nuclear output from France.

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Germany’s first floating LNG terminal should start flows on December 22, further alleviating Europe’s gas crunch.

By Julianne Geiger for Oilprice.com

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