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Tidelands Joins Growing List of California LNG Developers

San Antonio-based Tidelands Oil & Gas, a small Texas pipeline company with big plans for Mexico's northeastern gas industry, has added its name to the growing list of companies vying to build liquefied natural gas (LNG) import terminals offshore Southern California.

Tidelands CEO Michael Ward has his eyes set on bringing LNG to the Long Beach, CA, area but no specific site has been identified. The company has formed a new subsidiary, Esperanza Energy LLC, to evaluate the feasibility of a deepwater LNG port about 12 miles offshore Long Beach.

"Our goal is to develop a LNG import terminal that can play an important role in meeting California's growing energy needs by providing competitively priced natural gas to supplement that which is currently transported into the state by long-distance pipelines," said Ward, who also will serve as president of the new subsidiary. "Esperanza will only pursue this project if it can be sited, designed and operated in the safest, most environmentally responsible and economically viable manner possible. Our goal is not to just meet the environmental, public health and safety requirements, but to exceed them."

Tidelands has hired energy consultant David Maul, former manager of the California Energy Commission's Natural Gas Office and president of Maul Energy Advisers. "As the former head of the California Energy Commission's Natural Gas Office, I'm intimately familiar with every LNG project on the West Coast," Maul said. "I chose to work with Esperanza Energy because of the company's strong commitment to design and build an LNG project that is responsive to California's unique environmental and regulatory sensitivities.

"Our preliminary analysis suggests that a site offshore of the Long Beach area would offer considerable benefits to California residents with the greatest respect for environmental and safety issues. Before selecting a specific site for developmental consideration, we will confer with key local, regional and state stakeholders."

The company also has hired environmental consulting firm Entrix Inc., engineering firm Project Consulting Services and law firm Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman LLP.

However, Tidelands will be going head to head with multiple other LNG port developers that already have head starts in the region and closer ties to the upstream liquefaction end of the business. BHP Billiton is not far from receiving a decision on its LNG port offshore Oxnard, CA, from the U.S. Coast Guard/Maritime Administration. Crystal Energy also has an LNG project offshore Oxnard on file with the Coast Guard. Meanwhile, Sound Energy Solutions (ConocoPhillips and Mitsubishi) is awaiting a FERC decision on its onshore Long Beach LNG terminal, and three other offshore Southern California projects have been announced by Woodside Natural Gas, Excelerate Energy and Chevron.

Tidelands is planning one other LNG deepwater port offshore Tamaulipas, Mexico, using a unique system developed by Remora Technology that regasifies the LNG offshore and delivers the gas directly into the pipeline grid. The planned Dorado HiLoad LNG project has not yet been filed with regulators in Mexico. Tidelands, however, has filed for permits for a large pipeline system in northeastern Mexico and for development of the country's first gas storage field (see NGI, May 30 2005; Aug. 15, 2005).

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