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Draft Environmental Statement Issued for Northeast Gateway LNG

FERC staff, in a notice issued May 19, said it has cooperated in a Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) on the Northeast Gateway offshore LNG project planned by Excelerate Energy LLC, with a 16-mile, 24-inch diameter pipeline to be built by Algonquin Gas Transmission to connect the proposed LNG facility with the HubLine pipeline in Massachusetts.

The notice said that the Maritime Administration (MARAD) and the U.S. Coast Guard, as the lead federal agencies, have issued a notice in the Federal Register indicating the availability of the DEIS and requesting comments by July 3. Because the main part of the project is offshore Massachusetts, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission is in the role of a cooperating agency, reviewing the pipeline connection.

The DEIS envisions a deepwater port in Massachusetts Bay approximately 13 miles south-southeast of Gloucester, MA in water depths of approximately 270 to 290 feet. The port -- consisting of two Submerged Turret Loading buoys (STL buoys) -- would receive special purpose LNG carriers, known as Energy Bridge Regasification Vessels (EBRVs) with capacities of up to 3.2 Bcf. Regasified LNG would be shipped ashore from the moored vessel via Algonquin's proposed lateral line.

FERC said the DEIS does not compare or contrast the Northeast Gateway project with any of the other off- or onshore projects proposed for New England. A very similar project to Northeast Gateway, also in Massachusetts Bay, more recently has been proposed by Suez LNG subsidiary Neptune LNG LLC (see NGI, Oct. 10, 2005). Excelerate's project, using its proven technology, is targeted for operation in 2007. Excelerate already has in operation an Energy Bridge Deepwater LNG Port, Gulf Gateway, offshore Louisiana.

The DEIS notes that LNG currently meets approximately 20% of natural gas demand in New England, and well over 30% during winter peaks. The market is growing, however, and given current domestic production, supply increases will have to come from LNG. The Coast Guard plans to hold public hearings on the Northeast project in Massachusetts June 14 and 15.

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