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Third North Baja LNG Proposal Surfaces

A third proposal for a liquefied natural gas (LNG) receiving terminal along the Pacific Coast of North Baja surfaced Wednesday with business news reports out of Mexico City of an Italian-Mexican private-sector joint venture wanting to develop a floating terminal about five miles off the coast of Rosarito Beach, which is immediately south of the border city of Tijuana and in proximity to major existing and proposed natural gas-fired power plants in the Mexican state.

Mexico's federal environmental agency is studying the proposal for a possible permit, according to a Reuters news wire report. A local LNG opposition group in North Baja, which has fought plans of Sempra Energy to build its onshore terminal at Costa Azul, just north of Ensenada and about 60 miles south of Tijuana, and ChevronTexaco's proposed offshore terminal near Coronado Island, said it would also oppose the floating facility.

A San Diego-based Sempra spokesperson said construction of an access road at its Costa Azul site is nearing completion and full-blown construction is expected to begin "soon," although the company has been saying that since the end of last year.

A spokesperson for Mexico's federal energy agency, CRE, told Reuters that the Italian-Mexican joint venture has not yet applied for a regulatory permit for its proposed floating project, which is being pushed by affiliates of the Italian energy company, Eni, and those of the Mexican company TAMMSA (Terminales y Almacenes Maritimos de Mexico).

While the companies with the proposed LNG projects were not readily available for comments, the head of the local Mexican group pushing legal action to halt the Sempra and ChevronTexaco projects was readily available, alleging that the floating terminal concept would be just as environmentally harmful, given the sea life and birds along that stretch of North Baja Coast.

"We will not permit these anywhere; not in the sea, not land," said Jose Luis Sanchez, head of the Baja LNG opposition group.

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