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FERC Approves Expansion of LNG Import Terminal in Puerto Rico

FERC has agreed to a Bermuda-based partnership's plans to slightly expand sendout from a liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminal in Puerto Rico which could increase the number of LNG tanker-loads received annually from about 24 to 40.

EcoEléctrica LP operates LNG import, storage and vaporization facilities at Guayanilla Bay, in the municipality of Peñuelas, which is located on the south shore of the island. Last Thursday, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission [CP16-492] authorized EcoEléctrica to increase the send-out capacity of the LNG terminal by an additional 93 MMcf/d, to a total of 279 MMcf/d.

The increase in send-out capacity will be accomplished by placing into service one of two existing spare LNG vaporizers at Guayanilla Bay. Following the expansion, EcoEléctrica will deliver 186 MMcf/d of regasified LNG to the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority's (PREPA) Costa Sur Power Plant, which is located a few miles from the Guayanilla Bay plant. EcoEléctrica will use the remaining 93 MMcf/d at its cogeneration plant.

According to FERC records, construction of the LNG terminal, storage and regasification facilities at Guayanilla Bay were first authorized in 1996. Current facilities include a 1,800-foot pier for unloading LNG tankers; a 1 million bbl LNG storage tank; an LNG vaporization system, and other associated infrastructure.

EcoEléctrica said it currently receives an average of two LNG ships per month (24-26 ships per year).

In a 2014 order, FERC gave the company permission to construct and operate pipeline and associated equipment to supply up to 250 gallons per minute of LNG to a proposed non-jurisdictional LNG truck loading facility owned by Gas Natural Puerto Rico Inc., but EcoEléctrica has not yet begun construction of those facilities.

Following the 2014 order, EcoEléctrica estimated that it would receive 2.5 ships per month (30 ships per year) at Guayanilla Bay. But with FERC approval to serve PREPA's Costa Sur Power Plant, the company now anticipates receiving 40 ships at Guayanilla Bay annually.

"Because the project involves no new construction or modification of existing facilities but simply a change in operations requiring only the dedication of an existing spare vaporizer and a spare in-tank send-out pump to full-time service, the project will have no impact on landowners or on terrestrial environmental resources," FERC said in its order. The agency added that "the increase in LNG ship traffic from the proposed project will not adversely affect other environmental resources, such as marine wildlife, air quality and noise, or cultural resources."

In 2013, the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) reported that Puerto Rico does not produce natural gas, and all gas is imported as LNG through Guayanilla Bay. At the time, the EIA reported that Puerto Rico imports LNG mainly from Trinidad and Tobago, and that the island's per capita natural gas consumption rate is less than one-tenth of the U.S. average.

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