August 8, 2018 / 1:03 PM / 4 months ago

UPDATE 2-Tellurian plans to start building Louisiana LNG export plant in 2019

(Adds information about Tellurian pipelines and background on U.S. LNG)

Aug 8 (Reuters) - U.S. liquefied natural gas company Tellurian Inc said on Wednesday it remains on track to begin construction of its Driftwood LNG export terminal in Louisiana in the first half of 2019 and begin operations in 2023.

Tellurian is on schedule to announce its partners in the $27.5 billion project in the third or fourth quarter, Tellurian President and CEO Meg Gentle said in the company's second-quarter earnings release.

Driftwood is one of more than two dozen LNG export projects under development in the United States and seeking customers so they can start construction and enter service in the next decade.

U.S. LNG exports have almost quadrupled from 183.9 billion cubic feet (bcf) of natural gas in 2016 to 706.4 bcf in 2017, worth about $3.3 billion, and are on track to rise to over 1,000 bcf in 2018, making the country one of the world's biggest exporters of the super-cooled form of natural gas.

One billion cubic feet of gas is enough to fuel about five million U.S. homes for a day.

Tellurian said it has about 25 customers interested in partnering with and buying gas from the project.

The company estimated the U.S. Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) will approve construction of Driftwood in January 2019, enabling Tellurian to make a final investment decision to build the project in the first half of 2019.

Tellurian also said it closed open seasons on two proposed pipelines - Permian Global Access and Haynesville Global Access - that are designed to transport gas from shale formations in Texas and Louisiana to LNG terminals and other Gulf Coast customers.

Interest in both pipelines exceeded available capacity, the company said.

Unlike most other proposed U.S. LNG export projects that will liquefy gas for a fee, Tellurian is offering customers the opportunity to meet their gas needs by investing in a full range of services from production to pipelines and liquefaction.

Current partners include Total SA, General Electric Co and Bechtel, which has a $15.2 billion contract to build the liquefaction facility at the center of the project. Pipelines, reserves and other costs make up the rest of the $27.5 billion price tag of the project.

Driftwood will have capacity to produce 27.6 million tonnes per annum of LNG or about 4 billion cubic feet per day (bcfd) of gas.

Reporting by Scott DiSavino Editing by Bill Trott, Paul Simao and Frances Kerry

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