Safety Officials Order Partial Shutdown of Sabine Pass LNG Export Facility After Discovering 10-Year History of Leaks
Sabine Pass, the only liquefied natural gas (LNG) export facility in the country, has reportedly been experiencing safety issues for the past decade, and yet federal safety officials were only informed of this history while investigating the terminal’s latest leak in January. Owned by Cheniere Energy, Sabine Pass is located on the Gulf Coast on the border of Texas and Louisiana.
Regulators became aware of the export facility’s issues after the most recent accident and leak at an LNG storage tank. As NOLA.com reported:
“Supercold liquefied natural gas leaked into a space between inner and outer walls of a major storage tank at the Sabine Pass LNG export facility in Cameron Parish on Jan. 22, and its minus 260-degree temperature created numerous 1-foot to 6-foot cracks in the carbon steel outer tank wall, allowing some of the gas to escape.”
As a result of this recent leak, Alan Mayberry, associate administrator for the U.S. Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) sent a Corrective Action Order to Cheniere. The contents of this communication were not encouraging:
“To date, Sabine has been unable to correct the long-standing safety concerns described above involving the affected tanks, cannot validate the exact source or amount of the LNG that may have leaked into the annulus of the affected tanks, and cannot identify the circumstances that allowed the LNG to escape containment in the first place.”
According to PHMSA, the operators of the Sabine Pass facility don’t know how much LNG has leaked, don’t know how it happened, and can’t fix the problem, which seems like reasons for concern, especially considering problems with this and another tank began in 2008:
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