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Freeport LNG May Get U.S. Export Approval in Months

Freeport LNG Development LP may get expanded approval from the U.S. Energy Department to export liquefied natural gas in the next quarter or two, the head of Baker Botts LLP’s LNG practice said.

The multibillion-dollar Texas project is next on the department’s list of companies seeking permission to export gas to nations that aren’t party to U.S. free-trade agreements. Steven Miles, who has worked on more than 100 LNG transactions and doesn’t represent closely held Freeport LNG, said he expects the government to follow the list.

“The Department of Energy is being as diligent as they can on this,” Miles, a partner in the firm’s Washington office, said in an interview in Houston today. “There’s an awful lot of work to be done in terms of processing these applications.”

A surge in North American production from shale formations has led to proposals for about 30 billion cubic feet of daily U.S. gas export capacity. Cheniere Energy Inc. owns the only project in the lower-48 states that has all approvals for LNG exports.

Freeport is “optimistic” that the project will receive approval within the next two quarters, John Tobola, general counsel for the Houston-based company, said in an interview.

Freeport, which has agreements with BP Plc, Osaka Gas Co. and Chubu Electric Power Co. for use of the export facility, has said it plans to begin construction on two production units this year, with operations starting in 2017.

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