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CA Energy Commission Completes LNG Safety, Security Risk

Risk-based decision making programs used by the U.S. Coast Guard for existing liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminals along the East Coast should be included in any LNG terminals sited in California, the California Energy Commission (CEC) concluded in a review of existing safety and security risks for LNG trade international and nationally.

The 83-page report, "International and National Efforts to Address the Safety and Security Risks of Importing LNG: A Compendium," was completed for the CEC by Colorado-based Aspen Environmental Group. The report was posted last Wednesday on the CEC's website.

It also concluded that local government agency analysts "lack tailored information on LNG and its safety and permitting issues," so it is recommended that in California, information developed by the state's Interagency LNG Working Group should be disseminated to government organizations with permitting responsibility.

This document follows the CEC's "Natural Gas Assessment Report," which was issued last month, outlining the current gas supply-demand balance in California as well as North America

"Numerous rules, regulations, guidelines and standards exist for LNG facilities, particularly for carriers and onshore terminals," the LNG review said. "Environmental documents prepared for U.S. LNG facilities, however, do not describe the many LNG regulations in place."

While the report sites a lot of work related the operating safety and security risks, the assessment for the CEC acknowledged that the level of public concern about LNG safety and security makes both "risk assessment and communication a critical part of the facility siting process.

"Today, the public's concern about the possibility of terrorist attack means that LNG facility risk assessments must address the possibility of piracy, sabotage, and terrorism. Of particular concern is the potential for an LNG carrier to become a terrorist target itself, or become a weapon in an attack on another target."

The report confirmed that onshore LNG permitting is well documented in the safety/security area, but offshore terminal proposals are still breaking new ground with the U.S. Coast Guard taking the lead in the environmental reviews of those proposals. In any case, documents increasingly are addressing terrorist threats in any of these assessments -- onshore or offshore.

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