(Reuters) - U.S. energy company Kinder Morgan Inc's proposed Gulf liquefied natural gas (LNG) export terminal in Mississippi took a step toward receiving federal approval for construction on Thursday after staff at the federal energy regulator issued a draft environmental report.
In the report, known as an environmental impact statement, staff at the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) concluded that construction and operation of the project would result in some adverse environmental impacts, but those impacts would be reduced to less-than-significant levels if the company follows the recommendations in the draft report.
FERC said in a release its commissioners will take the FERC staff's recommendations into consideration when they decide on the project. FERC did not say when the commissioners would make that decision.
Gulf LNG includes the Gulf LNG pipeline and two liquefaction trains each with the capacity to produce 5.75 million tonnes per annum (MTPA) of LNG, equal to about 0.77 billion cubic feet per day (bcfd).
One billion cubic feet is enough gas to fuel about 5 million homes for a day.
Gulf LNG is one of dozens of LNG export terminals under development in the United States, Canada and Mexico that are seeking customers so they can get built over the next several years to meet growing global demand for the fuel.
The United States became a net exporter of natural gas, including LNG, for the first time in 60 years in 2017. Looking at the plants currently under construction, U.S. LNG export capacity is expected to rise to 5.2 bcfd by the end of 2018, 8.9bcfd in 2019 and 10.3 bcfd in 2020, from around 3.8 bcfd in service now.
Kinder Morgan could not immediately say when they would likely make a final investment decision to build the Gulf LNG project.
The Gulf LNG export terminal will be integrated with an existing import terminal at the site in Pascagoula.
The import terminal has the capacity to re-gasify 1.5 bcfd.
The Gulf LNG partners include units of Kinder Morgan, Blackstone Group LP, Warburg Pincus LLC and Lightfoot Capital Partners LP, according to Kinder Morgan's website.
(Reporting by Scott DiSavino; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama and James Dalgleish)