Manatee County Florida officials Thursday gave their blessing to Port Dolphin Energy LLC’s plans for a deepwater port to receive regasified liquefied natural (LNG) gas along with an associated gas pipeline off the coast of Tampa Bay, FL. The project still needs the approval of the U.S. Maritime Administration.

The unloading portion of the deepwater port, named Port Dolphin, would be located in federal waters approximately 28 miles off the Tampa Bay area coast in approximately 100 feet of water, according to Port Dolphin’s parent company, Norway’s Hoegh LNG.

The Manatee County Port Authority Thursday approved a long-term $30 million agreement with Port Dolphin. Late last year the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission approved the onshore pipeline portion of the project over the objection Gulfstream Natural Gas System LLC, which wanted the Port Dolphin connection to its system to be made offshore instead (see Daily GPI, Dec. 7, 2009).

Port Dolphin officials estimate that the project will generate more than $150 million in direct economic impact within Manatee County during the next 20 years. Construction is expected to begin in 2012 with completion in 2013. During the first five years of the agreement, Port Manatee will receive more than $16 million in cash and assets, followed by about $15 million over the remainder of the agreement.

“With the addition of Port Dolphin to our growing family of energy-related companies, Port Manatee exhibits its leadership as an incubator for local jobs and regional economic growth,” said Larry Bustle, chairman of the Manatee County Port Authority.

LNG tankers would arrive at Port Dolphin’s offshore facility and then connect to a new undersea pipeline system that would come onshore at Port Manatee. Port Dolphin’s vessels will be outfitted to regasify cargoes of LNG onboard ship (see Daily GPI, July 14, 2009; Feb. 21, 2008; April 4, 2007). In addition to its offshore port facility and pipeline, Port Dolphin is also expected to base an operations center at Port Manatee.

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