Freeport, Texas, residents on Saturday scrutinized the response of federal energy regulators to the massive Freeport LNG explosion last June, and questioned whether officials have required the company to do enough to ensure the export terminal is safe to resume operations. “We’re concerned about them getting close to reopening. I’m hoping FERC and PHMSA kind of slow down the process of allowing them to reopen,” Melanie Oldham, one of the roughly 100 residents who attended the community meeting, told Reuters.
No representatives of Freeport LNG bothered to show up at the local high school, home of the “Exporters,” to hear from or talk to the community.
Federal regulators at the meeting detailed the litany of safety failures, including inadequate operating and testing procedures, operator fatigue, and failing to follow up on a safety warning just two days before the blast that took about 20% of U.S. LNG export capacity offline. FERC gave Freeport LNG approval to start loading ships with LNG late last week, but the terminal is not expected to be back operating at full capacity for months. Gas exports, along with the increasing impacts of extreme weather often fueled by climate change, are raising U.S. energy prices and making the methane gas market even more volatile. (Freeport: Reuters, Bloomberg $; Market volatility: Wall Street Journal $)