Houston-based Freeport LNG has said that its plant repairs have been completed, seven months after an explosion took the facility out of production. It is now seeking regulatory approval to take the first steps in restarting operations.
With such approval, the facility said that it would be able to resume shipping LNG by early February, and from that date on it would gradually restore the route to full operations.
In a filing with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) Freeport LNG said that it had completed the repairs and upgrades to the facility. Regulators had found faults in the monitoring systems and processes at the facility, which it said were a factor in the explosion last June. Investigators said the explosion originated with Freeport’s LNG transfer equipment between its storage area and dock.
The report, which was published last November, found that the root cause of the accident was a pressure safety valve testing procedure and car seal programme deficiencies, along with temperature indicator alarms that could have been used to warn operators of increasing temperatures in LNG piping during operations.
On June 8th 2022 operators isolated a piping segment containing cryogenic liquefied natural gas, which lacked the proper overpressure protection. The LNG then warmed and expanded due to exposure to ambient conditions, resulting in a boiling liquid, expanding vapour explosion, and rupturing of the piping segment.
Freeport LNG’s filing to FERC requested authorization to “cool down the Loop 1 LNG transfer piping and reinstate boil-off gas management as its initial step to resuming normal operations at the export facility”.
According to the company, the introduction of LNG into the piping systems would allow the piping to cool down to cryogenic temperatures necessary for the circulation of LNG in the piping system and to transfer LNG to Dock 1 of the export facility.
The process reportedly would take 11 days, with liquefaction resuming shortly after that, followed by the first shipments from the facility.
Reuters noted that analysts are also reporting that vessels were already reporting Freeport as their destination and that they were expected to arrive at the plant by early February.
When the Freeport plant is back to full capacity it will have the ability to produce 2.38 Bcf per day.