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Excelerate Buys Rights to El Paso's Energy Bridge LNG Technology; Takes Over Project

Excelerate Buys Rights to El Paso's Energy Bridge LNG Technology; Takes Over Project

Woodlands, TX-based Excelerate Energy LLC, which specializes in LNG shipping and marketing, said Wednesday that a subsidiary has acquired the rights to El Paso's Energy Bridge assets and technology. The transaction includes El Paso's proposed offshore Louisiana Energy Bridge terminal, which is awaiting licensing by the U.S. Department of Transportation, as well as deployment of additional offshore LNG terminals worldwide. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

"Effective today, Excelerate now has the rights to Energy Bridge, to the technology, the leases to two ships and the two service agreements, one for the ships and one for the port," said Deborah Fiorito, spokesperson for Excelerate Energy. "All of the different agreements that had been in place for El Paso have now been assumed by Excelerate."

Excelerate signed funding and tolling agreements with El Paso, according to which, El Paso Energy Bridge Gulf of Mexico LLC will provide construction, maintenance and operational support for the first Energy Bridge Deepwater Port, offshore Louisiana.

Excelerate expects the license for that project to be issued in the first quarter of 2004 with the facility operational by the fourth quarter of 2004.

Excelerate also announced complementary transactions with Belgian ship owner Exmar NV, which currently has two Energy Bridge vessels under construction at the Daewoo Shipbuilding and Marine Engineering shipyard in South Korea. In the first of a series of agreements, GKFF Ltd. is purchasing one of the ships from an Exmar affiliate and leasing it to Excelerate under a 20-year time charter. In another transaction, Excelerate said it is leasing the second vessel from another Exmar affiliate, also for 20 years.

With the long-term contracts on two ships, Excelerate noted that it now has the flexibility to serve market needs globally; however, the company noted that it intends to use the ships primarily to deliver regasified LNG to the Gulf of Mexico Deepwater Port.

Energy Bridge technology allows a customized LNG shipping vessel to convert LNG to vapor aboard the ship. Gas then flows off the ship and into the offshore pipeline grid through a specialized buoy. The Energy Bridge design avoids the environmental and landowner complications of many onshore LNG projects.

The world's first Energy Bridge is expected to be located 116 miles offshore Louisiana. It will be capable of delivering in excess of 500 MMcf/d of gas into the Gulf of Mexico pipeline network.

"Our Energy Bridge ships have the ability to fully service LNG terminals and deliver natural gas to high-pressure gas pipelines to onshore locations," said Kathleen Eisbrenner, president of Excelerate. "However, when connected to a deepwater port, Energy Bridge technology adds numerous economic and environmental advantages. For example, because the port is offshore and away from land, we are able to avoid many of the challenges associated with building or expanding a conventional terminal in environmentally sensitive or populated areas.

"The Energy Bridge system enables Excelerate to target specific, high-demand markets and provides a regional solution for North America's growing demand for natural gas at a cost that is competitive with other LNG and pipeline alternatives," she said.

With the El Paso and Excelerate agreements in place, Advanced Production and Loading AS of Norway (APL) can proceed with the manufacture and installation of their submerged buoy system (STL) that will be an integral component of the Gulf of Mexico Energy Bridge LNG receiving terminal.

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