About this Project
Freeport Development LNG, LP (Freeport LNG) operates the Freeport Liquified Natural Gas (LNG) Terminal in Quintana, Texas. The facilities are regulated at the federal level by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC or Commission), U.S. Department of Transportation Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA), the U.S. Coast Guard (Coast Guard), and others. Originally developed as an LNG import terminal, the facilities have undergone several significant expansions and changes to operations over the past twenty years, enabling it to export LNG. Today, Freeport LNG export facilities include three LNG liquefaction trains, three LNG storage tanks, two marine berths, and associated piping and other appurtenant facilities. A fourth LNG liquefaction train has also been approved, but not constructed. A full history of the Commission’s actions regarding the Freeport LNG Export Terminal can be accessed via FERC’s eLibrary (FERC Docket Nos: CP03-75-000, CP03-75-002, CP03-75-003, CP03-75-004, CP05-361-000, CP05-361-001, CP12-509-000 and CP12-29-000).
On June 8, 2022, piping at the Freeport LNG Terminal failed, resulting in an explosion and fire. The explosion and fire occurred completely within the fenced boundaries of the facilities. Freeport LNG immediately shut down its operations and notified City of Freeport first responders. With assistance from local fire departments, the fire at the terminal was brought under control and extinguished.
PHMSA, in coordination with FERC, required Freeport LNG to conduct a root cause analysis prepared by an independent third party. The Root Cause Failure Analysis was reviewed and approved by both PHMSA and FERC. As described in this report, which was filed in the Commission’s administrative record (a public version was also released by PHMSA), this failure occurred due to the warming and expansion of LNG within the piping and an improperly isolated pressure relief valve. The warming and expanding LNG increased the pressure within the piping resulting in a rupture and release of LNG, in both vapor and liquid form. The LNG vapor then encountered an ignition source and exploded, forming a short-lived fireball. Debris from the explosion caused a breach of smaller diameter piping nearby causing a secondary small LNG pool fire. This incident caused damage to Freeport LNG Terminal facilities but did not extend outside the fence line of the facilities, and no offsite structures were damaged. No injuries or fatalities occurred at the site and no injuries or fatalities occurring outside the fence line were reported to federal authorities.
In response to the incident at the Freeport LNG Export Terminal, FERC staff informed Freeport LNG in a letter that it must receive written authorization before restarting any nonemergency operations at its facilities, constructing new or modified facilities, and commissioning and placing any facilities back into service. FERC staff also stated that such authorization would only be granted following a determination that the facilities are fit for service and acceptable measures have been put into place to safely return facilities to operation.
In the months following the incident, FERC staff participated in the federal incident investigation and worked with PHMSA to provide guidance to Freeport LNG and review damage assessments, repair work plans, and Freeport LNG’s plans to restart facilities operations. FERC staff communicated frequently with federal regulatory partners and Freeport LNG. In these communications, FERC staff directed Freeport LNG to provide information to assist in its investigative efforts and to assist in its evaluation of Freeport LNG facility repairs. Specifically, FERC requested information pertaining to several items, including, but not limited to:
- the events and records leading up to the incident and operations occurring at the time of the incident;
- Freeport LNG’s response to the incident and the effectiveness of its hazard detection, warning, and containment systems;
- the magnitudes and intensities of the explosion and fire;
- damage assessment and schedule including qualifications of assessors;
- investigation methods and repair timelines including qualifications of investigators;
- piping and valve specifications;
- inspection and testing records and operational logs;
- hazard and operability reviews and layer of protection analyses;
- maintenance records and facility operations procedures;
- staffing and training records and organizational structures and responsibilities; and
- emergency response plans and their implementation.
Between June 8, 2022, and December 31, 2022, Freeport LNG submitted over 100 filings into the Commission’s administrative record.
After an extensive review of Freeport LNG’s filings which were submitted in response to FERC staff requests for information and PHMSA requirements, including, as noted above, repair plans, modified or new operations procedures, and mitigation measures, FERC staff began approving Freeport LNG requests to return LNG facilities to service. In these approvals, which can be found using the links below, FERC staff determined in phases that specific Freeport LNG facilities were fit to return to service.
FERC Approvals of Freeport LNG requests to return facilities to service:
February 21, 2023 - Approval to Return to Service Certain Phase I Facilities.
March 8, 2023 - Approval to Return to Service Train 1 and Phase I Facilities.
These approvals also restated that Freeport LNG must continue providing weekly reports to the Commission’s administrative record (eLibrary) and noted that Freeport LNG must comply with any applicable PHMSA and US Coast Guard requirements.
On February 11, 2023, as part of the federal incident investigation, FERC staff participated in the PHMSA Freeport LNG Incident and Regulatory Response briefing held in Freeport, Texas. This briefing was held to provide the Freeport community including residents of Quintana Island and surrounding areas with an update on the federal incident investigation and its review of Freeport LNG’s repairs and requests to return LNG facilities to service. A copy of the PHMSA presentation is available for public review.
FERC staff continues to oversee ongoing repairs and facility operations changes to ensure that affected facilities are safely returned to operation. As appropriate, FERC staff will post updates and any other relevant documents to this webpage. Additionally, FERC’s Division of LNG Facility Inspection & Reviews (DLNG) will continue to perform safety and reliability inspections of the Freeport LNG Export Terminal.
For assistance with FERC documents, contact eLibrary Help Desk at email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
- LNG Export Terminals