FERC seeks comment on enviro review for Elba LNG project in Georgia

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission on Feb. 5 issued for comment, which will be taken until March 7, a draft environmental assessment (EA) covering natural gas facilities proposed by Elba Liquefaction Co. LLC (ELC), Southern LNG Co. LLC (SLNG) and Elba Express Co. LLC (EEC).

The proposed Elba Liquefaction Project and EEC Modification Project are collectively referred to as the Elba Liquefaction Project. The companies request authorization to add natural gas liquefaction and exporting capabilities to SLNG’s existing Elba Island liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminal and abandon SLNG’s existing LNG truck loading facilities at the LNG Terminal in Chatham County, Georgia.

In addition, the Companies propose to construct and operate new and modified compression and metering facilities in Hart, Jefferson, and Effingham counties, Georgia, and in Jasper County, South Carolina. The project would enable SLNG to export approximately 2.5 million tons per annum (MTPA) of LNG via the existing LNG Terminal on the Savannah River.

ELC and SLNG propose to construct and operate liquefaction and export facilities in two phases at the LNG Terminal.

  • Phase I, associated with the LNG Terminal, includes installation of three liquefaction system units; installation of a flare system and a marine flare; modifications to the LNG Terminal; and ancillary facilities and support system modifications.
  • Project facilities associated with the LNG Terminal in Phase II include installation of seven additional liquefaction system units, ancillary support systems, and potential additions or upgrades to systems installed as part of Phase I.

ECC proposes to construct and operate facilities on its existing pipeline system in three phases.

  • The Phase I compression and metering facilities would include the addition of 31,800 horsepower (hp) at the existing Hartwell Compressor Station; construction of a new 15,900 hp compressor station in Jefferson County, Georgia; construction of a new 15,900 hp compressor station in Effingham County, Georgia; installation of new metering facilities at existing sites in Chatham and Effingham County, Georgia and Jasper County, South Carolina; and modifications to segregate the two pipelines that currently extend from Elba Island to Port Wentworth, Georgia.
  • Phase II would include the addition of approximately 15,900 hp of compression at the existing Hartwell Compressor Station.
  • Phase III would include the addition of approximately 15,900 hp at each of the Hartwell, Jefferson and Rincon Compressor Stations.

These applications were filed with FERC in 2014.

Also, in 2012, SLNG filed an application with the U.S. Department of Energy requesting long-term authorization to export up to 4 MTPA of LNG from the LNG Terminal to any country that currently has or develops the capacity to import LNG via an ocean-going carrier and with which the United States currently has, or in the future enters into, a Free Trade Agreement (FTA) requiring national treatment for trade in natural gas. SLNG requested authorization for shipments over a 25-year period, commencing on whichever date comes first: the date of first export or 10 years from the date that the requested authorization is issued. DOE granted this authorization in 2012.

Also in 2012, SLNG filed an application with the DOE for authorization to export up to 4 MTPA of LNG from the LNG Terminal to any country with which the United States does not have an FTA requiring national treatment for trade in natural gas; which has developed or in the future develops the capacity to import LNG via an ocean-going carrier; and with which trade is not prohibited by U.S. law or policy. The companies requested authorization for shipments over a 20-year period, commencing on whichever date comes first: the date of first export or 10 years from the date that the requested authorization is issued. DOE intends to review the companies’ application and issue a final order after conducting a public interest review that includes macroeconomic impacts and after DOE fulfills its National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) requirements, including completion and adoption of this environmental assessment.

This facility has gone through various changes since a 1972 approval

The LNG Terminal is on Elba Island, an 840-acre private island near Savannah, Georgia. It currently imports LNG for storage, vaporization, and direct sendout via pipeline and has a storage capacity of 11.5 billion cubic feet (bcf) of vaporized natural gas. The Federal Power Commission (predecessor to the FERC) authorized siting, construction, and operation of the LNG Terminal in 1972. From 1978 to 1980 the LNG Terminal received shipments of LNG before being taken out of service in 1982. Since initial authorization, FERC has authorized a number of modifications and expansions at the LNG Terminal:

  • 2000-2001: Elba I Project. Re-commissioning and expansion to 4.0 bcf of storage capacity;
  • 2003: Elba II Project. Modifications and expansion to 7.3 bcf of storage capacity. This expansion included two new marine berths and one additional storage tank.
  • 2007: Elba III Project. Modifications and expansion of storage capacity in two phases. Approximately 4.2 bcf of storage capacity was installed in the first phase, which included one additional storage tank and removal of river dock unloading facilities. The second phase was vacated in 2011 at SLNG’s request.
  • 2012: Boil-Off Gas (BOG) Project. Addition of a new compressor unit and related facilities.

The companies under this new expansion would modify the existing electric distribution system to supplement existing power delivery to Elba Island. During construction of the liquefaction facilities, a temporary substation would be constructed by the utility company in order to supply electrical power to the LNG Terminal and construction activities while the existing substation is demolished. This temporary substation would remain operational until a new permanent substation is constructed and placed into service. The new permanent substation would be constructed on approximately 2.4 acres south of and adjacent to MMLS Units 8 and 9. Electrical distribution systems modifications during Phase II would include the installation of power cables within MMLS Units 4-10, unit-specific transformers, lighting, and grounding.

The electrical power demand for the Elba Liquefaction Project is estimated at 250 megavolt-amperes (MVA). The existing transmission system in the area of the Elba Liquefaction Project is rated at 115 kV, 60 Hertz. The companies would upgrade this line, construct a new substation at the LNG Terminal, and add a capacitor bank either at the LNG Terminal or at the expanded Deptford Substation. In addition, the existing substation at the LNG Terminal would be expanded to accommodate a bus-tie breaker and a second 115-kV line to Elba Island. Electric power upgrades to the LNG Terminal also would require the reconfiguration of the 115-kV lines into the existing substation to best accommodate the new load as well as the installation of an additional 60 MVA reactive capacitor. Additional right-of-way would be required to construct the new 115-kV line to Elba Island and to rebuild the existing 115-kV line to 250 MVA.

In addition, the existing transmission line would be relocated to the opposite side of Elba Island Road, requiring some new right-of-way near the Deptford Substation end of the line. This new line would cross approximately 12,000 linear feet of wetlands and up to three waterbodies, and would require approximately 10 acres of construction workspace over the 3.4-mile-long route from the Deptford Substation to the LNG Terminal Substation. Regulatory approvals for associated wetland and waterbody impacts would be required by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (COE) and by the Georgia Environmental Protection Division (GEPD) for stormwater runoff. All these activities would be completed by Georgia Power, the LNG Terminal’s electric service provider.

The companies also anticipate that an existing, approximately 3.5-mile-long single-phase electric power line would be upgraded to a three-phase power line to serve the Jefferson County Compressor Station. This work would be completed by Georgia Power and would not require regulatory approvals.

About Barry Cassell 20414 Articles
Barry Cassell is Chief Analyst for GenerationHub covering coal and emission controls issues, projects and policy. He has covered the coal and power generation industry for more than 24 years, beginning in November 2011 at GenerationHub and prior to that as editor of SNL Energy’s Coal Report. He was formerly with Coal Outlook for 15 years as the publication’s editor and contributing writer, and prior to that he was editor of Coal & Synfuels Technology and associate editor of The Energy Report. He has a bachelor’s degree from Central Michigan University.