BY EMILY FONTENOT / AMERICAN PRESS
If you’ve been in Southwest Louisiana any length of time, you’ve undoubtedly heard the term “LNG,” which is short for liquefied natural gas.
Once natural gas is extracted from the ground it’s piped into pressurized trains, cooled to a liquid and shipped around the world in LNG tankers. Once a tanker arrives at its destination, the LNG is regasified and used in manufacturing, as well as in homes for cooking and heating.
Southwest Louisiana was for years an import site for LNG, but a turn in the market several years ago made exporting more profitable. Seeing the opportunity for large returns, companies began announcing plans to build multibillion-dollar export facilities in the region — an industrial hub with ready access to pipelines, workers and the Gulf of Mexico.
One of these companies, Cheniere Energy’s Sabine Pass LNG, has achieved its goal of becoming an exporter, and it’s now the only operating export terminal in the contiguous U.S. Another, Sempra’s Cameron LNG in Hackberry, is expected to start operating in 2019.
Eight others are still in the planning stages. Some, like Magnolia LNG and Lake Charles LNG, have received permits and are waiting on buyers before making a final investment decision. Others are tied up in federal permitting, a lengthy process that includes an in-depth look at each company’s viability and its impact on the environment.