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Second GOM Offshore LNG Terminal Approved by DOT

Second GOM Offshore LNG Terminal Approved by DOT

The U.S. Department of Transportation has given its blessing to a second proposed deepwater liquefied natural gas (LNG) port, which would be located about 116 miles south of New Orleans. Once operational, the floating terminal would be capable of delivering more than 500 MMcf/d into a pipeline network for onshore delivery.

Dubbed the Louisiana Energy Bridge terminal, the offshore LNG port system was first suggested by El Paso Corp. two years ago after the company dropped its plans to build six onshore U.S. facilities (see Daily GPI, May 9, 2002).

However, as the purse strings tightened at El Paso, the bridge plans were put on hold, and in an effort to reduce its debt and focus on existing businesses, the technology and ongoing projects were bought by Excelerate Energy LLC (see Daily GPI, Dec. 18, 2003). Excelerate said that with the license's approval in the first quarter, the port could be operational by the end of this year.

The port's offshore location would allow LNG tankers to dock at a mooring buoy system to deliver gas into a subsea pipeline. As the LNG ship arrives at the unloading site, the buoy is pulled into a receiving cone and connected to the ship. The LNG is then regasified aboard the ship and the vaporized LNG is discharged through the buoy into the pipe.

When it unveiled the technology in 2002, El Paso officials said that a typical bridge port would have two offloading buoys to ensure uninterrupted delivery. Multiple buoys eventually were going to be deployed along the Atlantic Coast, and El Paso estimated that there were 17 available buoy sites on the U.S. East Coast alone.

The mobile tankers, which may be moved to various markets around North America, are designed to dock at the moorings for nearly a week at a time. The initial cost of each unmodified tankers was estimated at $160 million, and to convert vessel and build a mooring buoy and pipe was estimated at $150-200 million. There were no revised cost estimates available from Excelerate.

The federal approval is the second under the Deepwater Ports Act; the first was issued in November 2003 to ChevronTexaco Corp. (see Daily GPI, Nov. 18, 2003). Chevron's terminal would be located about 40 miles offshore the Louisiana coast in Vermilion Block 140. The Port Pelican terminal would include a receiving dock, storage and regasification facilities and pipeline interconnections to the Henry Hub.

Maritime Administrator William G. Schubert said that his agency has three additional offshore LNG port applications under review and expects to receive more.

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