The Coast Guard and the Maritime Administration (MARAD) issued a Federal Register notice announcing the availability of a draft environmental impact statement (DEIS) on Freeport-McMoRan Energy LLC's proposed Main Pass Energy Hub liquefied natural gas (LNG) deepwater port license application. The port would be located in the Gulf of Mexico in Main Pass Lease Block 299 at a former sulphur mining facility about 16 miles southeast of Venice, LA, in a water depth of 210 feet. It would utilize four existing platforms, bridges and other structures and would include construction of two additional platforms to support LNG storage tanks (totaling 145,000 cubic meters) and a ship berthing area. The project also would include construction of 192 miles of 12-36 inch diameter pipelines. Main Pass Energy Hub would be developed over an existing salt formation in which storage caverns will be developed with a capacity to store 28 Bcf of natural gas. The terminal is expected to vaporize and deliver 1 Bcf/d of natural gas. Three public meetings will be held on the project on July 18, 19 and 20 in Alabama, Mississippi and Louisiana. A copy of the DEIS is available at http://dms.dot.gov under docket number 17696.
The U.S. Coast Guard said it is reopening the public comment period on a petition from the City of Fall River, MA, asking for regulations establishing thermal and vapor dispersion exclusion zones for marine spills of liquefied natural gas (LNG), similar to Department of Transportation regulations for such spills on land. The comment period was reopened in response to a request by the Attorney General of Rhode Island that a recent report by Richard Clarke on the dangers of LNG be included in the docket. Clarke's report, "LNG Facilities in Urban Areas," examines the safety and security risks of urban LNG terminals, in particular the Fall River terminal and the proposed Providence LNG terminal. The report paints a grim picture of what could happen if an LNG tanker was successfully targeted. Clarke estimated a total casualty figure of 10,000-30,000 in the Providence area. The Coast Guard said it will consider the city's petition, any comments received from the public, and other information to determine whether or not to initiate the requested rulemaking. Comments and related material must reach the Docket Management Facility on or before Aug. 22. The Coast Guard docket number is USCG-2004-19615. The web site is http://dms.dot.gov. For further information contact Commander John Cushing at (202) 267-1043 or JCushing@comdt.uscg.mil.
FirmGreen Energy, a privately held Newport Beach, CA, alternative energy company announced that ground has been broken for a three-phase trash-to-energy project with the Franklin County Solid Waste Authority of Central Ohio (SWACO). The project will involve capturing, cleaning and using methane and carbon dioxide (CO-2) from SWACO's landfill gas in multiple end-use applications. FirmGreen's unique spin is that it will create three forms of energy byproducts in three separate project phases spread over the next 18 to 24 months, beginning with Phase One that is scheduled to be operational the end of the year, using cleaned landfill gas to produce electricity for use by SWACO at its waste management facilities. Both SWACO and local communities will realize "significant benefits through environmentally sound waste management, generation of clean renewable energy, skilled jobs and increased tax revenue," said FirmGreen President Steve Wilburn. In a second phase, scheduled to be completed by the end of the first quarter next year, some of the landfill gas supplies will be converted to compressed natural gas (CNG) to fuel the waste management fleet, along with local school and public transit buses. Phase three will convert other landfill gas into methanol for use in "building products, fuel cells, and the manufacture of biodiesel," according to FirmGreen's Wilburn, who said that the company has an agreement with Mitsubishi Gas Chemical Co. to sell methanol from the so-called "Green Energy Center" being developed for SWACO. The third phase will take 14 months to develop once it obtains necessary local/state regulatory permitting.
Pogo Producing is selling its Thailand assets, including about 341 Bcfe of proved reserves, to PTTEP Offshore Investment Co. Ltd and Mitsui Oil Exploration Co. Ltd. for $820 million in cash, which Pogo plans to use to fund acquisitions and capital projects. Pogo said it plans to continue to focus on financial discipline, including the repurchase of potentially as much as 12% of its outstanding shares and the curtailment of development drilling because of current high drilling costs. However, the sale of its international assets will fund capital projects and new purchases, said CEO Paul G. Van Wagenen. The transaction is expected to close in the third quarter. "An important strategic goal of 2005, entering into an agreement to sell our Thailand assets if the right price was offered, has been achieved," said Wagenen. He said the American Jobs Creation Act of 2004 created unique tax implications that made the value of the sale more attractive. "Given the current strength of the energy market, the demand for high quality international properties, and the one-time tax treatment afforded by the Act, we decided that the divestiture of our licenses in Thailand and Hungary was in the best interests of our shareholders and our company." On June 7, Pogo announced the sale of Pogo Hungary Ltd. for $9 million. The company announced plans to sell its international operations in January and to curtail its 2005 discretionary development drilling until costs or drilling efficiencies improved. At the same time, Pogo also announced a stock repurchase program totaling $275-375 million in common stock.
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