The recent Canadian government-commissioned study on the impacts of liquefied natural gas (LNG) tanker traffic in the choppy waters of Passamaquoddy Bay does not provide any fodder for the opponents of the Downeast LNG project proposed for Maine, said the company’s president.
“If those who oppose our project hope to use this report as justification for their position, it falls way, way short of the mark,” said Dean Girdis, who is also founder of Downeast LNG. “There is no smoking gun here. In fact, to the contrary, the report contains reassuring statements” for Downeast LNG and other U.S. companies that are seeking to transport LNG cargoes through the treacherous bay to their proposed terminal sites. The Passamaquoddy Bay straddles the U.S.-Canadian border, with most of it located in New Brunswick.
The study, which was released Tuesday, concluded that LNG tankers passing through the bay would face a “very high level of risk,” but it noted that the risk could be reduced “considerably” if mitigation measures were used (see Daily GPI, Oct. 3).
The report found that “by and large, it is possible to transit safely, but it is absolutely necessary to plan the passage in accordance with the tidal cycle,” Girdis said. “We have…done just that. We have carefully planned for shipping routes, tides and currents, and we have engaged in highly sophisticated transit simulations with both Canadian and U.S. officials as observers.”
He said he found it “curious” that the report only referenced two LNG terminal projects that are on the U.S. side of Passamaquoddy Bay — the proposed Downeast LNG facility in Robbinston, ME, and the Quoddy Bay LNG project in Washington County, ME, — but made no mention of any Canadian LNG projects.
“Presumably the Canadian government has already dealt with many of these same issues in approving Canadian projects, so it seems odd that there is no reference to them in this report,” Girdis noted.
The report, which was conducted by Senes Consultants Ltd of Ottawa, “simply reinforces what we have said all along: that with the careful planning we have undertaken, the safeguards we will employ and the coordination and cooperation of U.S. and Canadian officials, this will be a safe and environmentally sound project.”
The Downeast LNG project, which still is awaiting approval by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, would consist of two storage tanks, a regasification facility and a pier to receive LNG carriers, according to the company. It also would include a 31-mile pipeline that would connect the terminal to the existing Maritimes & Northeast Pipeline that runs from Nova Scotia through Maine to southern New England. The proposed terminal would have storage capacity of 320,000 cubic meters, with an output capacity of 500 MMcf/d and peaking capacity of 625 MMcf/d.
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