AES Ocean Express LLC has won final environmental clearance from FERC to construct the 54-mile U.S. leg of a pipeline that would transport vaporized gas to southern Florida from a proposed liquefied natural gas (LNG) import terminal in the Bahamas. This action puts the AES Ocean project ahead of the competing Bahamas-to-Florida projects sponsored by Tractebel and El Paso Corp.

Construction of the proposed pipeline would have “limited adverse environmental impact” if “appropriate mitigating measures” are used, FERC staff said in a final environmental impact statement (FEIS) on the AES Ocean pipe project [CP02-90-001].

The U.S. portion of the AES Ocean line, 46 miles of which would be subsea facilities, would deliver gas to Broward County, FL, from the proposed terminus of a 40-mile non-jurisdictional line at the Exclusive Economic Zone boundary between the United States and the Bahamas.

The $440 million pipeline would extend to interconnections with Florida Gas Transmission (FGT) and Florida Power and Light’s distribution system near its Fort Lauderdale power plant. The proposed 24-inch diameter line, which has been pegged for in-service by late 2005 to mid-2006, would deliver 842,000 Dth/d of gas, the majority of which has been contracted by affiliate AES LNG Marketing.

The AES Ocean project is one of several that are aimed at meeting the anticipated demand growth in the Sunshine State. Peak gas demand in Florida is expected to increase by 2.39 Bcf/d by 2010 and by 4.54 Bcf/d by 2020, according to AES Ocean. This projected rise in demand will be three times the capacity to be created by the affiliated AES Ocean LNG project in the Bahamas, it said.

The pipeline received a preliminary determination from FERC last April. It now awaits a final certificate, which is the last step at the agency in the project-approval process. The Commission normally awards a certificate shortly after a project receives FEIS approval.

AES Ocean LNG has said construction of the import terminal, storage and regasification facilities in Ocean City, Bahamas, which would supply gas to the AES Ocean pipeline, would begin in 2004. They are expected to be operational by mid-2006 at the latest.

Both AES Ocean Express and AES Ocean LNG are owned by AES Corporation, a top independent power company headquartered in Arlington, VA.

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