Shell’s Mexican subsidiary announced Monday that the company earlier this month obtained an environmental permit for its proposed liquefied natural gas (LNG) receiving terminal along the Pacific Coast of North Baja in Mexico. It came April 8 from the Mexican federal environmental agency, SEMARNAT.

With an eye for power plants and large energy-consuming industrial customers in North Baja, Shell’s proposed coastal receiving terminal would be located about 23 kilometers north of Ensenada with a capacity to process 7.5 million tons of LNG annually, beginning in 2007. (On roughly the same developmental timetable, a competing proposal for a terminal in the same area by San Diego-based Sempra Energy, also received an environmental permit earlier this month.)

Like Sempra, Shell’s Mexican operations viewed the environmental approval as a “significant step forward.” In a prepared statement by the head of Shell Mexico Peter Kidd stressed his company would be working with the local Baja community closely as it moved forward with its terminal plans. Kidd sees the Shell terminal as a stimulus to the local economy.

An application to the Mexican federal energy regulators is still pending. And local land-use permits will be required from the City of Ensenada.

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