Southern California’s port city of Long Beach is talking to three finalists in its search for a new natural gas supplier for its municipal utility to provide about 10 Bcf annually over a one- to three-year period.

The finalists from an initial list of 15 suppliers are: BP, Coral (Shell) and Occidental Petroleum, according to city utility sources. As talks are ongoing with the potential suppliers, the Long Beach Gas and Electric Department is attempting to get city council approval for a master contract that can be used with the bidders and will allow the utility to ink the deal before March 31 without going back to the city elected officials for approval, said Alyce McCall, city energy services manager. Long Beach’s current supply contract expires at the end of March, so McCall said the utility hopes to get a new deal in place to be effective April 1.

Historically, Long Beach has drawn about a third of its 13 Bcf annual output from local supplies in what was once a very productive oil/gas field lying in and around the city, but a state government-backed 49 MW power plant in the nation’s busiest harbor — the combined Los Angeles-Long Beach harbors — has taken away the local city supplies, according to Long Beach’s utility officials. The city has a roughly 50-50% split between residential and commercial/industrial load.

One of the three finalists, Occidental, is developing the port power plant. Oxy was one of the 15 suppliers that responded to the city utility’s request for qualifications (RFQ) last November. The gas load that will go to the Oxy power plant is part of what the city utility has used for its baseload volumes, according to Chris Garner, Long Beach energy department director.

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