U.S. exports of liquefied natural gas (LNG) are set to increase with the approval this week of Dominion's Cove Point LNG liquefaction and export project.

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) has authorized the company to start construction of new liquefaction facilities in Calvert County, Maryland, together with related facilities at an existing compressor station and at metering and regulating sites in Virginia. In its approval of the project, FERC set out 79 environmental conditions and Dominion has confirmed that it accepts all these conditions.

According to Dominion, the proposed export facility will be within the 131-acre footprint of the existing LNG terminal site, which has been in Calvert County on the western shore of the Chesapeake Bay for almost 40 years. It is expected to start service in June 2017. No new pipelines or storage tanks will be needed at the facility.

The project will enable Dominion to export up to 5.75 metric tons of liquefied natural gas per year. The U.S. Department of Energy has approved exports of gas from Cove Point to both Free Trade Agreement and non-Free Trade Agreement countries.

FERC has previously approved three other LNG export projects, all of which are located in the Gulf of Mexico. Cove Point is the first such project on the U.S. East Coast.

The Commission is still to decide on a further 14 LNG export proposals.