Four companies have announced the signing of 20-year tolling capacity and joint-venture agreements to support the development, financing and construction of a LNG export facility at the site of the Cameron LNG receipt terminal in Hackberry, Louisiana.

The tolling agreements subscribe the full nameplate capacity of the three-train, 13.5Mtpa facility that will provide an export capability of 12Mtpa of LNG, or approximately 1.7 billion cubic feet per day (Bcfd), and the full regasification capacity of 1.5Bcfd. Each tolling agreement is for 4Mtpa.

The joint-venture agreement calls for affiliates of GDF SUEZ, Mitsubishi (through a related company jointly established with Nippon Yusen Kabushiki Kaisha) and Mitsui each to acquire 16.6% equity in the existing facilities and the liquefaction project. A Sempra Energy affiliate will retain 50.2%.

The tolling capacity and the joint-venture agreements are subject to a final investment decision to proceed by each party, finalisation of permit authorisations, securing financing commitments that are expected to occur by early 2014, as well as other customary conditions.

“These agreements represent a major step forward in the development of our LNG export project at the site of the Cameron LNG facility,” said Mark A. Snell, president of Sempra Energy. “This project, one of the largest in Sempra Energy’s history, provides benefits to the local Louisiana economy, promotes a favourable balance of trade for the national economy, and supports national and international energy security by assuring reliable long-term gas supplies to US allies and trading partners.”

The anticipated incremental investment, the majority of which will be project-financed, is estimated to be approximately $6bn to $7bn, excluding capitalised interest and other financing costs. The total cost of the facility, including the cost of the existing facilities plus interest during construction, financing costs and required reserves, is estimated to be approximately $9bn to $10bn. Construction is expected to start in 2014 with the first phase of liquefaction operations to commence in the second half of 2017. Full commercial operation of all three trains is expected in 2018.

“The Cameron LNG project has strong local and regional support, experienced, world-class commercial partners in GDF SUEZ, Mitsubishi and Mitsui and a track record of safe and reliable operations,” said Octavio M. C. Simoes, president of Sempra LNG. “We look forward to working with our partners to achieve a final investment decision and commence construction in early 2014.”

“By being a shareholder of the Cameron LNG project, alongside strong and experienced partners, GDF SUEZ — one of the world LNG leaders — will contribute to the emergence in the U.S. of a new source of LNG,” said Jean-Marie Dauger, executive vice president in charge of the Global Gas & LNG business line for GDF SUEZ. “The Cameron LNG project will add growth, diversity and flexibility to the group’s LNG portfolio, in order to supply its existing or future markets in high growth regions.”

“By participating in this LNG export project, we are proud to be able to contribute not only to the development of stable energy trade between the US and countries around the world, including Japan, but also to the growth of the US economy,” said Jun Nishizawa, vice president of the Global Gas Business Department for Mitsubishi. “With the experience Mitsubishi has accumulated from more than a dozen LNG projects over the last half-century, we are committed to exert all our efforts for the success of this project.”

“We are pleased to have the opportunity to participate in a stable source of energy supply to meet the increasing global demand, including Japan,” said Hirotatsu Fujiwara, general manager of the Natural Gas Division I for Mitsui. “We are confident that our over 40 years’ experience in the LNG industry will contribute to the success of this project.”

Last year, Cameron LNG obtained approval from the US Department of Energy (DOE) to export up to 12Mtpa of domestically produced LNG to all current and future Free Trade Agreement countries; the authorisation to export LNG to countries with which the US does not have a Free Trade Agreement is pending review by the DOE.

Cameron LNG initiated the pre-filing process with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) in April 2012 and filed its permit application with the FERC December 7 2012, requesting approval to construct and operate the project.

On April 4 2013, the FERC issued a “Notice of Schedule for Environmental Review of the Cameron Liquefaction Project” that calls for the final Environmental Impact Statement to be issued in November 2013. Cameron LNG is the first LNG export facility application pending before the FERC to have reached this important milestone in the permitting process and is expected to receive the FERC authorisation in early 2014.

In January 2013, Cameron LNG initiated a tender process for the engineering, procurement and construction contract for the project and launched its financing process with the Japan Bank for International Cooperation, Nippon Export and Investment Insurance, and commercial banks. Cameron LNG expects to secure financing commitments for the project by late 2013 or early 2014 and award the engineering, procurement and construction contract in late 2013.