Freeport LNG Development has secured regulatory approval to partially restart commercial operations of the Freeport LNG project located on Quintana Island in Texas.

In June 2022, the natural gas liquefaction and export facility was forced to go offline following an explosion. Freeport LNG Development determined that the blast was due to the isolation of a piping segment filled with cryogenic liquefied natural gas (LNG) which did not have proper overpressure protection.

Freeport LNG founder, chairman, and CEO Michael Smith said: “Over the past eight months, we have implemented enhancements to our processes, procedures and training to ensure safe and reliable operations, and significantly increased staffing levels with extensive LNG and petrochemical operating experience to reduce overtime, enhance operational excellence, and improve quality assurance and business performance.

“Eight months of diligence, discipline and dedicated efforts by our teams, working collaboratively alongside the regulatory agencies and local officials, have positioned us to resume LNG production and commence ramp-up to the safe establishment of commercial operations of our liquefaction facility.”

The authorisation from the US Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) allows one liquefaction train, which has already restarted, to immediately return to service at its full capacity.

The regulator has granted permission for the incremental restart and full return to service of a second train.

However, the restart and return to service of the third liquefaction train of the Freeport LNG project would need subsequent regulatory approval after some operational conditions are fulfilled.

The LNG project has a nameplate capacity of 15 million tonnes per annum (Mtpa) from three trains. A fourth train with a capacity of 5Mtpa has been planned to be added to the facility.

According to Freeport LNG Development, over the next several weeks, it will undertake a conservative ramp-up profile to set up a production of around two billion cubic feet per day from the three trains. This is expected to be achieved after establishing and sustaining stable operation of each incremental train.

Initially, the operations have been using two of the project’s three LNG storage tanks and one of its two LNG berths.

The company expects the second LNG berth and third LNG storage tank to return to service in May 2023.

Freeport LNG Development started first LNG production and ship loading from the midstream facility earlier this month.