San Diego’s Sempra Energy has completed its new Baja California liquefied-natural-gas terminal, opening the first LNG import facility on the western coast of North America.

The isolated docking facility known as Energia Costa Azul, 14 miles north of Ensenada, is expected to serve as a major new source of natural gas for Mexico, California, Arizona and other Western states.

Sempra completed the terminal at an estimated cost of $1bn and received its first LNG shipment from Qatar in mid April, with a second LNG shipment arriving 10 days later.

“We have fully tested the system,” said Darcel Hulse, who oversees the terminal and related development efforts as President of Sempra LNG.

The start-up calls for the pumping of liquefied methane, which has been super-cooled to -260°F, into Costa Azul’s processing facility, where it is ‘re-gasified’ at normal temperatures.
Sempra’s tests included pumping natural gas from Costa Azul into new feeder lines, which Sempra built for around $215m, and into existing gas pipelines serving California and Mexico.

At least 14 similar LNG terminals have been proposed in recent years along the coast from Canada to Mexico, but Sempra’s is the only facility to have been built so far. The list includes four proposals in Southern California, including an offshore project near Malibu that sank under strong political and environmental opposition.