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Excelerate Energy Obtains Port License for Northeast Gateway

Excelerate Energy announced Thursday that it has obtained a deepwater port license from the U.S. Maritime Administration (MARAD) to build its proposed Northeast Gateway offshore liquefied natural gas (LNG) delivery system in Massachusetts Bay, which the company says will be the first of its kind built in the Northeast.

The Northeast Gateway license comes on the heels of Neptune LNG LLC, a subsidiary of Houston-based SUEZ Energy North America, receiving its deepwater port license for a competing offshore LNG port in Massachusetts Bay (see Daily GPI, Jan. 31).

MARAD's favorable decision keeps the Northeast Gateway project on target to begin natural gas deliveries to the New England market from the port in December. The port will be located 13 miles south of Gloucester, MA. The Northeast Gateway port is based on Excelerate Energy's proprietary Energy Bridge technology and will be the company's second deepwater port. In March 2005, The Woodlands, TX-based Excelerate Energy began operating its Gulf Gateway Deepwater Port in the Gulf of Mexico -- the only offshore LNG receiving port operating in the world (see Daily GPI, April 7, 2005).

When completed, the Northeast Gateway LNG port will be capable of delivering up to 800 MMcf/d of natural gas through a 16-mile subsea pipeline that will feed into Algonquin Gas Transmission's existing HubLine, which runs under the ocean floor across Massachusetts Bay and connects to the New England natural gas grid.

The Northeast Gateway project would consist of two submerged buoys that would attach to specialized ships capable of regasifying LNG on board and sending it into a subsea pipeline system. Algonquin proposes to build the 16-mile pipeline that will connect the Northeast Gateway project to its HubLine system.

Excelerate Energy noted that the MARAD decision was the result of nearly three years of working with communities in Massachusetts, and a "rigorous and thorough" permitting process at the federal, state and local levels. In December, Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney approved the Northeast Gateway LNG project, as well as the competing offshore port proposed by Neptune LNG (see Daily GPI, Dec. 20, 2006).

The Neptune project would deliver between 400 and 750 MMcf/d of natural gas to New England -- enough to serve 1.5 million to 3 million homes daily, the company estimated. The port would be located off the coast of Massachusetts' North Shore. It would operate by mooring specially designed LNG ships equipped to store, transport and vaporize LNG into natural gas that can be sent to customers using the HubLine subsea pipeline, which brings gas to the Algonquin pipeline system from the Maritimes & Northeast pipeline.

Neptune said it expects to have its estimated $1 billion project in operation in 2009. But Northeast Gateway plans to have its LNG deepwater port in operation by December.

Northeast Gateway spokesman Doug Pizzi said the company can meet the early in-service date because "we already have the ships" constructed to transport the LNG. Typically, construction of tankers takes anywhere from two to three years, he said.

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