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Kinder Morgan Inc. asked U.S. energy regulators for permission to put the fourth liquefaction train in service at its nearly $2-billion Elba Island liquefied natural gas (LNG) export plant in Georgia.

Kinder Morgan has said it expects one 0.3 million-tonne-per-annum (MTPA) LNG train to enter service about each month through the summer of 2020 when all 10 trains should be operating.

Kinder Morgan said train 2 would be ready for service on Jan. 16, according to a filing with the U.S. Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) on Monday.

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Train 2 would be the fourth train to enter service at the plant. Units 1, 3 and 4 were already operating. The first of 10 trains at Elba – train 1 – entered service in early October.

The first export cargo from Elba left in December.

Elba, which is 51-per-cent owned by units of Kinder Morgan and 49-per-cent by EIG Global Energy Partners, is designed to liquefy about 2.5 MTPA of LNG, equivalent to around 0.350 billion cubic feet per day (bcfd) of natural gas.

One billion cubic feet is enough gas to fuel about 5 million U.S. homes for a day.

Royal Dutch Shell PLC has a 20-year contract to use the facility.

Including projects under construction, U.S. LNG export capacity is expected to rise to 9.6 bcfd by the end of 2020 and 10.3 bcfd by the end of 2021 from 7.6 bcfd now.

That keeps the United States on track to become the world’s biggest LNG exporter in 2024. It became the third-biggest LNG exporter in 2019, behind Qatar and Australia.

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