Cheniere Energy Inc. said Nov. 7 that federal regulators authorized the return to service of one of two shut storage tanks at the U.S. LNG company’s Sabine Pass LNG export plant in Louisiana following a leak in 2018.

Specifically, the U.S. Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) and the U.S. Department of Transportation's Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) approved of the return to service of LNG Tank S-101.

PHMSA ordered Cheniere to shut two LNG storage tanks on Feb. 8, 2018, after plant workers on Jan. 22, 2018, discovered a one- to six-foot crack in one tank that leaked fuel into an outer layer.

During the investigation of the Sabine site, PHMSA discovered a second tank had also experienced releases of LNG from the inner tank.

FERC and PHMSA have said tank S-103, the other tank shut in 2018, will remain out of service until the regulators authorize its return.

In October 2021, Cheniere agreed to pay the PHMSA’s proposed $1.5 million penalty for alleged violations related to the 2018 leak.

The five tanks at Sabine can hold the equivalent of 3.4 Bcf of gas each, or 17 Bcf in total. One billion cubic feet of gas is enough to fuel about 5 million U.S. homes for a day.

Cheniere is the biggest U.S. buyer of natural gas and the biggest U.S. exporter of LNG with the capacity to produce about 45 million tonnes per annum (mtpa) of LNG at its two facilities: Corpus Christi in Texas and Sabine. That is equivalent to almost 6 Bcf/d of natural gas.

The company is also building the seven-train Corpus Christi Stage 3 expansion, which will have a capacity of roughly 11.5 mtpa, and is developing the addition of a couple more liquefaction trains at Corpus.