The regulatory clock is ticking once again on two liquefied natural gas (LNG) import terminals that would be located offshore Gloucester, MA. Together the two nearly identical terminals, Excelerate’s Northeast Gateway LNG project and Suez Energy’s Neptune LNG project, could provide 800 MMcf/d of average daily gas supply to New England.

In a letter last week to the projects’ sponsors, the Maritime Administration (Marad) and the U.S. Coast Guard said final environmental impact statements on the projects should be published during the last week in October with final public hearings in the first half of November. The 45-day deadline for agency comments and governor’s decision would fall in the last week of December. Gov. Mitt Romney has veto power over the projects.

The statutory clock was suspended on the projects in July to allow time for the Coast Guard/Marad to collect additional environmental data and information on mitigation strategies in part to meet the requirements of the Massachusetts Environmental Policy Act and to address mitigation recommendations from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

In July, Stephen Pritchard, secretary of the Massachusetts Executive Office of Environmental Affairs, certified the draft environmental impact statements (DEIS) on the projects but said project sponsors would need to supply more information for the final draft to be certified. Pritchard said he needed more information on alternatives, such as land-based LNG terminals, different offshore locations and other means of meeting energy demand in New England, including renewable energy and conservation.

He also required more details on how a 16-mile pipeline from the terminals to Algonquin’s HubLine system in Boston Harbor would be buried in order ensure minimal impact on marine life and the regional fishing industry.

The Neptune LNG project would be located about 22 miles northeast of Boston. It would be capable of sending out 400 MMcf/d of regasified LNG (750 MMcf/d on a peak day) and would be capable of mooring two 140,000-cubic-meter LNG vessels at a time by means of a submerged unloading buoy system. The project would require an 11-mile, 24-inch diameter pipeline to Algonquin.

Northeast Gateway would be located 13 miles south-southeast of Gloucester. It also 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 Gas Transmission has filed an application to build a 16-mile, 24-inch diameter pipeline to the Northeast Gateway project. Northeast Gateway would provide up to 800 MMcf/d of peak day sendout. Average sendout would be 400 MMcf/d.

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