Monday, March 24, 2008

Federal Energy Regulatory Commission okays first floating LNG terminal in US

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, on Thursday, approved construction of the first floating liquefied natural gas terminal in Long Island Sound. The Broadwater Energy LLC terminal, a dual venture with Shell and TransCanada Corp, will deliver LNG to feed electric plants and heat homes in New York and Connecticut and would be stationed about 10 miles from the coasts of each state. The $700 million project will consist of a 1200 feet by 200 feet floating storage and regasification unit, rising 80 feet out of the water and delivering one-and-a-quarter billion cubic feet of natural gas per day. The regasified LNG will be brought onshore by a 22-mile pipeline extension run underwater to the Iroquois Gas Transmission System.

Immediately, Connecticut governor M. Jodi Rell bashed the decision, calling it “an insult” to the people of Connecticut and “an assault” on the area, while Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal blasted the project as an “environmental atrocity” and an “unneeded abomination.” The latter fellow has committed to reversing the decision, claiming “I will fight this project at every agency and in every court up to the U.S. Supreme Court, if necessary.”

Why is there such strong opposition? For one, Long Island Sound is a natural estuary, apparently cherished by the community, with many groups and alliances formed over the years to encourage its preservation. Addition of an industrial facility will be an eyesore to many. Another reason for opposition is necessity – or lack thereof; Governor Rell said “there is no need for this project from an energy policy standpoint and no need for this project from a market standpoint.”

According to the FERC, there are 5 existing LNG terminals in the country: Kenai, AK, Everett, MA, Cove Point, MD, Elba Island, GA, and Lake Charles, LA, with an additional facility in Puerto Rico. There are over 150 LNG ships worldwide, with 50 more under construction. Public concerns with the technology, among others, include ships-as-terrorist-targets and dangerous vapor clouds. In 2006, the US imported about 1.6 billion cubic feet of LNG a day. According to the Center for Liquefied Natural Gas, LNG currently produces nearly about 3% of the nation’s natural gas, but the DOE predicts that number to increase to 16% by 2030.

Connecticut Post

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