After a less than 15 month construction period, The Woodlands, TX-based Excelerate Energy LLC announced last week that its Gulf Gateway Energy Bridge Deepwater Port has received its first liquefied natural gas (LNG) cargo successfully. The Gulf Gateway -- located offshore Louisiana in the Gulf of Mexico -- is the world's first offshore receiving facility and the first new LNG regasification facility in North America in over 20 years.
With opposition to onshore LNG terminal siting continuing to grow due to security and safety concerns, offshore terminals could be the future of new built LNG facilities in the United States.
Using Excelerate's proprietary Energy Bridge technology, Gulf Gateway has completed its first cargo discharge of almost 3 Bcf of natural gas and is now capable of delivering up to 690 MMcf/d to downstream markets. Excelerate purchased the Energy Bridge technology from El Paso in 2003 (see NGI, Dec. 22, 2003; April 5, 2004).
"Excelerate Energy has created a new generation of LNG technology with the successful commissioning of the innovative Energy Bridge system," said Kathleen Eisbrenner, Excelerate's president. "The numerous benefits associated with Energy Bridge make it the most economical and readily deployable technology to solve the growing natural gas shortage that we are facing as a nation."
Located 116 miles off the coast of Louisiana in 298 feet of water, Gulf Gateway will receive Energy Bridge regasification vessels (EBRV), each with an LNG capacity of 138,000 cubic meters -- equivalent to 3 Bcf of natural gas. From there, gas may be delivered into both the Blue Water and Sea Robin offshore pipeline systems at a rate between 50 and 690 MMcf/d.
The Energy Bridge system consists of Excelerate's proprietary shipboard regasification technology and a submerged offloading buoy (STL Buoy) provided by Advanced Production and Loading, AS of Norway. The EBRV retrieves the submerged offloading buoy connected to an underwater pipeline, and draws it into a specially designed compartment within the EBRV. It then begins the process of regasifying its LNG cargo and transferring the gas to markets onshore.
Excelsior, the first of Excelerate's fleet of EBRVs owned by Exmar NV of Belgium and constructed at Daewoo Shipbuilding and Marine Engineering Ltd. in South Korea, loaded its inaugural cargo in Bintulu, Malaysia. Excelerate said its purchase of the Malaysian cargo from Asean LNG Trading Ltd. facilitated the commissioning of Gulf Gateway.
Excelerate is also currently planning to incorporate its Energy Bridge technology into its proposed Northeast Gateway LNG terminal. The $200 million Northeast Gateway terminal would be located 10 miles offshore Gloucester, MA, and could be operational sometime in 2007 (see NGI, June 14, 2004).
"We are diligently working to finalize our Northeast Gateway project offshore Boston, and we anticipate opportunities to deploy our proven technology throughout North America and around the world," Eisbrenner said.
However, the Northeast Gateway project does have competition. In February, Tractebel LNG, owner of the onshore Distrigas terminal in Everett, MA, announced it also planned to build an LNG terminal off the coast of Massachusetts. Tractebel's $900 million Neptune deepwater port would be located not far from Excelerate's project (see NGI, Feb. 21).
At that time, Tractebel LNG said that while there may be enough gas demand in New England to support both projects, it may be impractical to have two similar LNG projects located in the same general area.
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