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Freeport LNG announces restart date

The facility in Texas has been offline since a pipeline explosion in June.

Offline since June, the Freeport LNG export facility in Texas could be up and running again by mid-December. Photo courtesy of Freeport LNG Development, L.P.
1 of 3 | Offline since June, the Freeport LNG export facility in Texas could be up and running again by mid-December. Photo courtesy of Freeport LNG Development, L.P.

Nov. 18 (UPI) -- Following a June explosion that idled the facility, the operator of the Freeport LNG export facility in Texas said Friday that the plant could be running again by mid-December.

Freeport is the second-largest facility of the kind in the United States. The explosion at the facility in June came just as the global energy sector was working to adjust to the marginalization of Russian natural gas that came as a result of the war in Ukraine.

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The company on Tuesday provided information from the analysis of the incident by investigative company IFO Group, which found the direct cause of the explosion was the lack of proper pressure protections on a pipeline segment. This led to the warming and subsequent expansion of the super-cooled liquefied natural gas in the system, the eventual boiling of the liquid and ultimately the pipeline rupture.

Freeport LNG Development, L.P. announced Friday that the work necessary to resume operations at the three so-called trains that cool gas to the liquid form, along with storage tanks and loading infrastructure, was about 90% complete.

"Proposed remedial work activities for a safe restart of initial operations have been submitted to the relevant regulatory agencies for review and approval," the company stated. "Subject to Freeport LNG meeting its regulatory requirements, it is targeting initial production at the facility in mid-December."

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The company said each of the three trains would be brought on slowly so that each one can ramp up before the next one comes on stream. At its peak, Freeport could process about 2 billion cubic feet of natural gas per day (Bcf/d) and export as much as 15 million tons of LNG each year.

"We are committed to moving forward with an uncompromising safety focus and enhanced operational processes that will enable us to chart a safe, sustainable path forward to serve our customers and the broader LNG market as a whole," Freeport's founder and CEO Michael Smith said.

Federal estimates show total U.S. LNG exports are on pace to increase by around 13% from this year's average to reach 12.33 Bcf/d on average for 2023. Natural gas deliveries to U.S. LNG export terminals averaged 12 Bcf/d during the seven-day period ending Nov. 16, a 4% increase from week-ago levels.

There were 22 vessels laden with LNG that left U.S. export terminals during the period carrying a combined 82 Bcf of super-cooled gas.

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