FERC Chairman Kevin McIntyre made his comments in a commission podcast following recent media reports that FERC had issued letters detailing permit delays of 12 to 18 months.
McIntyre said those reports of such letters were incorrect. “FERC has issued no such letter,” he said.
“In just the last few days we have made truly significant strides in reforming the permitting process with our federal partners…that will significantly reduce our LNG permitting timelines,” McIntyre said, noting he expects FERC will be able to provide more details on this soon.
More than two dozen firms are developing new LNG export projects in the United States to take advantage of growing demand for natural gas overseas, especially in China and the rest of Asia, and abundant and low-cost supplies of the fuel from U.S. shale fields.
The United States has been the world’s biggest producer of gas since 2009. It became a net exporter of the fuel in 2017 for the first time in 60 years, due in part to growing LNG exports.
Since exporting its first cargo from the lower 48 U.S. states in February 2016, the country is expected to become the world’s third-biggest LNG exporter by capacity in 2019.
In addition to the two operating LNG export terminals at Cheniere Energy Inc’s Sabine Pass in Louisiana and Dominion Energy Inc’s Cove Point in Maryland, there are liquefaction trains under construction at five U.S. sites.
That will boost the country’s LNG export capacity from 3.8 billion cubic feet per day (bcfd) now to 4.0 bcfd by the end of 2018, 8.8 bcfd in 2019, 10.1 bcfd in 2020 and 10.8 bcfd in 2021. One billion cubic feet is enough gas for about five million U.S. homes for a day.
“FERC staff is very cognizant of the financial market impacts of its LNG project schedules,” McIntyre said, noting the commission will “not issue schedules until we have all the facts necessary and have implemented our improved processes to create accurate schedules.”