October 3, 2019 / 1:42 PM / 13 days ago

U.S. regulator OKs start of Elba Island LNG production for Kinder Morgan

LONDON, Oct 3 (Reuters) - U.S. regulators approved Kinder Morgan's request to start production of liquefied natural gas at the first plant of its new export facility, a year after it had been originally due to begin operations, filings showed this week.

The Elba Island facility is one of half a dozen in the country beginning to produce LNG for export, contributing to soaring supplies of fuel globally which has upended gas markets in Europe and Asia.

It is also quite unusual among U.S. facilities, employing modular technology to build much smaller "trains," or plants, than its peers at 0.3 million tonnes a year (mtpa) capacity compared to around 5 mtpa for other U.S. trains.

The facility has experienced start-up problems that have led to periodic delays since late last year as it tweaked the setup of its 10 trains. In total, they will produce around 3 mtpa when up and running.

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) approved its request to "commence service for liquefaction and export activities" at the first train in a filing dated Sept. 30.

The United States has exported 26 mtpa of LNG so far this year, exceeding its 2018 total of 22 mtpa and equalling the 2018 total of the world's No. 3 exporter, Malaysia.

Reporting by Sabina Zawadzki; Editing by Bernadette Baum

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