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Long Beach LNG Talks to Start Up ‘Very Soon,’ Mitusbishi Exec Says
Following last week’s split city council vote affirming negotiations, talks will get under way “soon” between proponents of a liquefied natural gas (LNG) receiving terminal in the Port of Long Beach, CA, and the city’s energy department, the COO for Mitsubishi’s U.S. Sound Energy Solutions (SES) subsidiary, Tom Giles, said during a brief interview Monday with NGI.
In the meantime, the work on the joint draft environmental impact report (EIR) between the Port and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission continues with a September target for releasing the draft EIR, said Giles.
He noted the joint SES-ConocoPhillips receiving terminal offers a number of environmental advantages with its two-pronged focus — providing new baseload gas supplies into the gas distribution systems of the City of Long Beach and private sector gas distribution giant, Sempra Energy’s Southern California Gas Co., along with establishing a small source of LNG to more economically fuel transportation and heavy equipment fleets throughout Southern California.
“Either the LNG is converted, or it is not — with 97 or 98 percent converted to regular natural gas,” Giles said. Unlike most receiving terminals, SES’s proposed facility will not use seawater as the heat source to transform LNG back into a gas; instead, the proponents plan to use fresh water in a closed-loop system, so there are no discharges into the harbor.
Similarly, the LNG that is offloaded into insulated, double-walled tanks experience some “boil off” of the methane as the LNG is held before undergoing the warming process, and those supplies are used to help operate the receiving site, similar to the use of escaping methane from the LNG by the oceangoing ships transporting it from its place of origin.
Giles said there is “quite an active use of LNG” for transportation in buses and airport shuttles, along with more and more health equipment powered by it, but that could be “defeated over a period of time” for high natural gas prices, if you have to pay for the cost of liquefying it and transporting it. “It wouldn’t be economical, but our supply will be economical,” he said.
Giles said that Mitsubishi and ConocoPhillips so far have not talked about another secondary “product” from the LNG facility, and that is central refrigeration for use in nearby buildings and factories. “We have limited ourselves to the two purposes — vehicle fuel and traditional domestic supplies.”
“The liquefaction process, while it is not difficult, is much more complex,” Giles said. “It is pretty simple [for regasification], heat it up.”
In addition to resuming the talks with SES-ConocoPhillips regarding a 2.5-mile natural gas pipeline from the proposed LNG facility to SoCalGas’s backbone transmission system and links to the city of Long Beach retail natural gas distribution utility, the city council last week ordered its police and fire departments to jointly make their own risk and hazardous assessments, separate from those being done in the draft EIR.
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