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Port Arthur LNG updates road completion, final decision timelines

While a year plagued by a pandemic and several abnormal weather events has delayed construction on Port Arthur LNG, the company hasn’t sat idly by.

Between 2019 and 2020, organizers with the multibillion-dollar liquefied natural gas project underway in Sabine Pass have given nearly $500,000 to local non-profits and economic development organizations, Sempra LNG representative Kelly Prasser said this week in a presentation to the Port Arthur City Council.

Those projects include:

  • Assembling and providing more than 400 COVID-19 safety kits for students in the Sabine Pass school district;
  • Providing funds so educators can purchase 3-D printers and create face masks for teachers and first responders;
  • Giving local non-profits a combined $80,000 to fund “food, shelter and bill payment” during the holidays;
  • Planting more than 200 trees at Sea Rim State Park for migrating birds;
  • Awarding $350,000 to non-profits in Jefferson and Orange counties for COVID-19 and storm relief and recovery;
  • Opening a holiday drive that funded the membership of 120 girls from the Port Arthur area into the Girl Scouts of San Jacinto;
  • And partnering with the United Board of Missions, Port Arthur Police Department’s Blue Santa program, and Crime Stoppers of Southeast Texas, among others.

However, it’s the on-site work that has provided the biggest community impact.

“The state of where we are today and working through COVID, we’re very proud of the 1.2 million (work) hours without incident,” Prasser told the Council.

That work, which began in November 2019, includes the relocation of 3.5 miles of Texas 87 in Sabine Pass, also known as Phase 1. In that time, the Sempra LNG and Saudi Aramco company has installed about 956,000 tons of crushed rock, 81,000 feet of pipeline, and added almost 12,000 feet of silt fencing. It also has provided upgrades to the city’s waterline.

“We appreciate…more than anything improving our Highway 87 going into Sabine Pass,” Mayor Thurman Bartie told Prasser during the digital meeting.

Texas 87, Prasser said, was “falling into the ship channel” when Phase 1 began. Subsequent work has been done to repair and elevate the road.

“It’ll make a safer highway,” she said.

Phase 2, which also is underway, includes prepping the site for development by adding a dock to receive equipment needed for construction.

The Port Arthur LNG representative said the aforementioned installations were done using local vendors, and cost more than $38 million.

“If Port Arthur contractors can earn a living wage with your company, it would be an even greater testament of what you do,” Bartie said.

Last year Jim Thompson, permit and compliance manager with Sempra LNG, told The News that peak construction of the Port Arthur facility would require the employment of approximately 5,000 people, many being from the area.

“PALNG has committed to Jefferson County and Port Arthur to hire local whenever possible and use local goods and services for its needs,” he said in the earlier interview.

Phase 1 is — weather permitting — expected to be completed by June, when Sempra LNG will then return the highway to the Texas Department of Transportation.

Phase 3, which is the final investment decision that signals the start of construction, is slated for December.

“We’re hoping by the end of this year to get going on Phase 3, which will be closer to putting shovels in the ground,” Prasser said.