LONDON, Dec. 18 (UPI) -- British energy company BG Group said it was cleared by U.S. regulators to start building a liquefied natural gas export facility in Lake Charles, La.
"We are pleased to receive the approval from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, an important milestone as we progress the Lake Charles project towards a final investment decision," BG Group Chief Executive Helge Lund said in a statement.
The project in Lake Charles has conditional approval from federal regulators to export up to 2 billion cubic feet of natural gas per day in the cooler liquid form.
FERC approval is the last step in the regulatory process needed for development of the LNG facility, which BG Group is planning alongside its partners at Energy Transfer Equity and Energy Transfer Partners.
The approval comes at a time when major construction projects are endangered by lower energy prices. With lower crude oil prices starving companies of capital, BG Group has passed the regulatory hurdles to merge with Royal Dutch Shell. Once completed, it would be the largest merger since Exxon and Mobil teamed up in the 1990s.
Jason Klein, a general manager for BG Group's assets in the United States, said the LNG facility could provide a stimulus for an energy sector depressed by lower crude oil prices.
"Lake Charles LNG has the potential to create several thousand jobs during construction and if fully operational could result in approximately 250 long-term operational positions -- sustainable jobs for current and future generations," he said in a statement.
BG Group said a final investment decision on the Lake Charles facility is expected by next year. Construction should start immediately after that decision, with first exports planned for 2020.