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BHP Billiton Sets Emission Reduction Program

BHP Billiton LNG International announced a program to reduce air emissions from its proposed offshore liquefied natural gas (LNG) receiving terminal, which has taken the lead in the race to build an LNG project on the U.S. West Coast. The Australian company made its announcement as the California State Lands Commission concluded a series of four public hearings on a revised draft environmental impact report (EIR) in Oxnard, CA.

Public comment will be taken on the draft EIR until May 12, and then the U.S. Coast Guard is expected to issue its final environmental assessment for the proposed Cabrillo Port this summer. The California Coastal Commission separately will hold hearings on the proposal to process LNG tanker shipments into an average of 800 MMcf/d of gas 21 miles south of Port Hueneme. An undersea pipeline will carry the fuel in its gaseous state to shore where it will interconnect with Southern California Gas Co.'s pipeline system.

The Lands Commission issued its draft EIR in March and scheduled public hearings in Santa Clarita, Malibu, and Oxnard, CA.

In the meantime, BHP Billiton LNG has established three separate environmental initiatives that it claims will "dramatically reduce" nitrogen oxide (NOx) emissions from the LNG facility. The rest of the program will offset the remaining NOx emissions through reductions of existing marine operating sources, according to Renee Klimczak, BHP Billiton LNG president.

The trio of programs include a clean fuels initiative, clean engine program, and finally what Klimczak called a "clean neighbors initiative." Under the clean fuels plan, Billiton commits to using natural gas in all of the operating equipment and vessels associated with Cabrillo Port; for its clean engines program, the LNG company will use "state-of-the-art" tug engines running on low-emission diesel fuel; and for the clean neighbors initiative, the company will replace two tug boat engines operating along the Southern California coast.

Billiton said as of last Tuesday it has signed agreements with two major tug boat operators hauling barges off the Southern California coast to replace the engines in the tugs.

"BHP Billiton's emissions reduction program reduces NOx emissions, in total, by more than 800 tons per year," said Klimczak. "This equates to more emission reductions than would be required were Cabrillo Port located onshore."

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