Sempra remains “committed” to solving area LNG permitting
Published 12:10 am Saturday, November 18, 2023
PORT ARTHUR — Sempra Infrastructure officials told Orange Newsmedia Wednesday evening that they are reviewing a decision of the United States Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals and the potential impacts it may have to the Port Arthur LNG Project.
Senior Communications Manager Kym Butler provided the following statement:
“We are continuing construction on the project under existing permits and remain committed to working with the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality and other stakeholders and are evaluating our next steps.”
On Tuesday, the Court of Appeals ruled the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality’s previous order granting Port Arthur LNG’s PSD permit application is vacated and the matter is sent back to the Commission for proceedings consistent with its opinion.
Sempra officials declined additional comment Wednesday evening.
In September, Sempra Infrastructure, a subsidiary of Sempra, announced the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission approved the permit authorizing the Port Arthur LNG Phase 2 expansion project under development at Port Arthur LNG in Port Arthur.
The permit was lauded at the time as a major regulatory milestone for a proposed Phase 2 project, including the addition of two liquefaction trains (trains 3 and 4) capable of producing up to 13 million tonnes per annum of liquefied natural gas, company officials said.
CEO Justin Bird said Sempra Infrastructure is committed to investing in infrastructure opportunities that help enable a cleaner and more secure energy.
The order, he said, is a significant step in Sempra’s ability to advance the global energy transition, “creating an opportunity to double the amount of secure and reliable U.S. natural gas that Port Arthur LNG can help deliver to global markets.”
News of Court of Appeals decision this week was met with frustration by several Port Arthur and Sabine Pass officials.
Port Arthur Mayor Thurman Bartie, who was in Atlanta Wednesday at a summit for the National League of Cities, was made aware of the Courts decision at approximately 11 a.m.
“I understand the environmental concerns that environmental groups would have and even the TCEQ and EPA and I can understand what the courts have ruled on with consistency and actually applying standards to industrial facilities,” Bartie said.
“We live in a community that has grown from 125 years ago to the present built on industrial projects and this project — Port Arthur LNG — fosters growth in our community.”
Bartie hopes there is a middle ground and he would be the first to propose some type of discussions and that a compromise can be reached with the EPA and courts so the project can continue.
Port Director Mark Viator said the Sabine Pass Port Authority is depending on the Port Arthur LNG project going through to run port expansion.
He said he is very disappointed in those who are “fighting the economic growth of Southeast Texas.”
“The amount of pollution that is created from LNG projects is not anything compared to other hydro-carbon plants,” Viator said, adding the project’s possible close would mean a lot of lost jobs and business.
“By 2027, we were projected to have 4,500 ships traveling the Sabine Neches Ship Channel,” he said. “1,500 of those were going to be LNG ships. Part of our master plan was to create LNG ship berths and doing bunkering to fuel those ships. This was going to create revenue for us that was going to our master plan to develop Sabine Pass to attract bird watchers, fishermen and make Sabine Pass a national fishing destination.”
Lance DeJohn, a partner with Port City Sabine Holdings, said 75 percent of the operation is currently supported by Port Arthur LNG.
“We are a private-owned port, and they are bringing in all the rock for that yard through us,” DeJohn said. “Probably right now sitting in our yard is over 700,000 tons of rock. Hopefully they can work through it and figure it out.
“That is why we bought that yard, to support the local projects. Golden Pass is the other one. Sempra is huge for us. They are contributing huge, the relationship is great. It’s providing and giving employment close to 100 people on our job site right now.”
Port Arthur Community Action Network Executive Director John Beard said the decision by the Court of Appeals was a major victory for community advocates and environmentalists, who challenged the state-issued air pollution permit, saying it would release tons of health-threatening air pollutants into the community already overburdened by pollution.
Phase 1 of Port Arthur LNG is under construction, and the development of the proposed Phase 2 project could increase the total liquefaction capacity of the facility from approximately 13 million tonnes per annum to approximately 26 million.
The proposed project is also expected to include an additional LNG storage tank and marine berth and would benefit from some of the common facilities under construction that were approved as part of the Port Arthur LNG Phase 1 permitting process.
At the time, Sempra Infrastructure was evaluating opportunities to develop the entirety of the Port Arthur site while exploring projects to reduce the carbon intensity of its LNG, positioning Port Arthur as a flagship hub for the energy transition.
The company is leveraging the integrated capabilities of its business segments to develop the proposed Port Arthur Pipeline Texas Connector project, the proposed Post Arthur Pipeline Louisiana Connector project and develop new gas storage facilities, all of which would serve the Port Arthur LNG facility.
— Mary Meaux’s reporting contributed to this story.