The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Maritime Administration (MARAD) recently issued a deepwater port license for what is expected to be the first offshore floating natural gas liquefaction project in the United States.
The Delfin LNG Deepwater Port project in the Gulf of Mexico (GOM) off the coast of Louisiana would consist of newly built onshore gas compression on a brownfield site; the use of existing 42-inch pipelines to transport natural gas nearly 50 miles offshore; the offshore port complex composed of four moorings; and four floating LNG vessels with total export capacity of 13 million metric tons per year.
The order was issued March 13 but not released until last Friday. The U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) oversees vessel routing measures to be taken by the deepwater port.
Delfin says on its project website that it expects to be operational in 2020.
The Delfin port would be located in federal waters within the Outer Continental Shelf about 37.4 to 40.8 nautical miles off the coast of Cameron Parish, LA. The facility, which would be the first of its kind in the Gulf of Mexico, would incorporate onshore components, which are subject to Federal Energy Regulatory Commission jurisdiction. FERC issued a draft environmental impact statement for the project last summer. The Commission has yet to approve the onshore facilities of the project.
Delfin initiated the purchase of the UTOS Pipeline (now Delfin Offshore Pipeline) from Enbridge Inc. in 2012 and closed the transaction in 2014. The pipeline was originally built to transport gas from offshore wells in the Gulf of Mexico. Delfin LNG plans to reverse the flow of the pipeline to deliver processed gas from onshore sources to the deepwater port.
“Delfin LNG brings together an experienced team of offshore energy (facility and pipeline) development engineers, managers and financial backers,” the MARAD order said. “It is clear from the responsiveness to MARAD, USCG and cooperating agency requests for information that Delfin LNG’s team understands the statutory and regulatory framework under which construction and operation of the port is governed.”
Delfin is a unit of Houston-based Fairwood Peninsula Energy Corp. Enbridge acquired a 5% stake in Fairwood in 2015.