NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Two companies are looking at building large facilities along the Mississippi River south of New Orleans where they can export natural gas to the world market, another sign of the expanding footprint of the natural gas industry in Louisiana.
Until now, the area around Lake Charles has been the center of a boom in the market to import and export natural gas with 10 projects in various stages of development there. Two large facilities — Cheniere Energy's Sabine Pass LNG and Sempra Energy's Cameron LNG — are under construction. Cheniere plans to make its first overseas shipment of LNG in January.
Now companies are looking to Plaquemines Parish as an alternative hub.
Venture Global LNG, a Washington, D.C.-based energy firm, wants to build a large facility near Pointe-a-la-Hache on the west bank of the Mississippi River while Louisiana LNG Energy LLC. is working to construct a smaller facility on the east bank of the river near Davant. Louisiana LNG is a Houston-based venture.
The projects in Plaquemines are an outgrowth of the nation's boom in natural gas production that has resulted from developments in hydraulic fracturing to reach gas stored deep inside the earth. Natural gas is then turned into liquid form and exported by ship.
"We've got a lot of LNG available or coming available," said Eric Smith, associate director of the Tulane University Energy Institute.
Michael Powell, a Plaquemines spokesman, said the two companies have held meetings to gain public support. He said there is no opposition from the parish to either project.
Both companies have submitted applications for permits to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission in the past year. The agency must give them approval before they can move forward.
The Venture Global facility would be built on 632 acres and the Louisiana LNG site would be 190 acres in size, according to company documents.
Both Plaquemines facilities would tap into existing natural gas pipelines and ship liquefied natural gas overseas, the companies said.
Venture said its facility, to be built in phases, ultimately would be capable to exporting 20 million metric tons a year. Louisiana LNG said its facility would be capable of exporting 6 million metric tons annually.
Both facilities hope to begin operations in 2020, according to company documents.
"The need for liquefied natural gas continues to grow," said Jimmy Staton, an executive vice president with Venture. He said the company hopes to export to European and Asian markets.
Venture Global said its facility would be built on land leased to it by the Plaquemines Port Harbor & Terminal District.