The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission recently approved a proposal by two Cheniere subsidiaries to site, construct and operate facilities to liquefy domestic natural gas for export to world markets. The FERC authorization order can be downloaded via this post.

“Obtaining approval from the FERC is one more milestone for our Liquefaction Project,” said Charif Souki, Cheniere Chairman and CEO. “We will now finalize the financing arrangements in order to commence construction of the first two LNG trains of our Liquefaction Project promptly.”

Cheniere plans to modify the existing Sabine Pass LNG import terminal, located on the Sabine Pass Channel in western Cameron Parish, Louisiana, to handle natural gas exports. The project is being designed and permitted for up to four LNG trains, each with a nominal capacity of 4.5 million tons per year. An LNG train is the collection of industrial equipment used to cool natural gas to a liquid state.

The operator has entered into four sales and purchase agreements for 16 million tons of LNG per year with BG, Gas Natural Fenosa, KOGAS and Gail. Construction of the first two trains is planned for the second half of 2012 and is subject to the completion of financing arrangements and a final investment decision.

Cheniere plans to commence operations at the first two trains in 2015 or 2016. The FERC approval requires the company to complete construction and have the proposed facilities operational within five years of the date of the order.

The US has exported small volumes of LNG from a plant in Kenai, Alaska to Japan since 1969, but if an FID is taken and the trains are constructed as planned, Sabine Pass would be the first US LNG export facility in the lower 48 states.