The U.S. Coast Guard delivered another blow last week to the embattled Weaver's Cove Energy liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminal project, saying its proposal to use smaller LNG tankers was incompatible with the waterway near the proposed site in Fall River, MA.

"It appears that the waterway may not be suitable for the type and frequency of LNG marine traffic contained in your smaller tanker proposal," said Roy A. Nash, captain of the Port of Southeastern New England, in a preliminary review of the Weaver's Cove tanker proposal.

Sponsors of the Weaver's Cove LNG project proposed using smaller LNG tankers after language was inserted in a transportation spending bill, which was later signed by President Bush, that blocked the demolition of the Brightman Street Bridge over the Taunton River (see Daily GPI, Feb. 14, 2006). The old bridge was originally scheduled to be removed upon completion of the new Brightman Street bridge.

With the old bridge left intact, sponsors Hess LNG and Poten & Partners can't bring conventional LNG vessels up the river because they won't fit through the 98-foot-wide openings in the old bridge. Conventional LNG tankers are 145-feet-wide.

As part of its proposal, Weaver's Cover also planned to double the frequency of LNG deliveries to the Fall River site, increasing the number of vessels arriving through Narragansett and Mount Hope Bays to a range of 120-130 per year.

In his letter to Weaver's Cove reporting the findings of his preliminary assessment, Nash cited several issues impacting the suitability of the waterway for LNG transits, including:

Nash said there was a need for "additional workshop discussions with state and local law enforcement and public safety officials to ensure the risks, impacts, resource demands, capabilities and coordination requirements (of the smaller tanker proposal) are well understood and quantified." The public will be given an opportunity to comment to the Coast Guard on the Weaver's Cove proposal in a supplemental review process, he noted.

The Weaver's Cove LNG terminal project, which FERC approved in mid-2005, has been the target of intense opposition by local, state and federal officials. If built, it would provide 800 MMcf/d of peak sendout capacity, 400 MMcf/d of baseload supply and 200,000 metric tons of LNG storage. The project would take up 68 of 73 acres at a former petroleum import terminal on the Taunton River, which feeds into Mount Hope Bay and Narragansett Bay about 50 miles south of Boston. Mill River Pipeline LLC would build two short pipelines to the Algonquin Gas Transmission system from the terminal to carry 400,000 Dth/d on average (see Daily GPI, July 1, 2005).

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