Wednesday, April 30, 2008

LNG platforms - A northeast update

On April 10, New York Governor David Paterson announced he was rejecting a plan by Broadwater Energy to to build a floating liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminal nine miles off the coast of Long Island. The news delighted environmentalists, fishermen and other lovers of Long Island Sound. NY nixes LNG platform; focus shifts to NJ

This week, Broadwater (a joint venture of Shell Oil and the TransCanada Corporation) was back in the news, announcing that it would appeal to the U.S. commerce secretary. A decision could take up to a year. If the appeal is successful, it no doubt would trigger law suits that could drag on for some time.

In the meanwhile, the focus has shifted to New Jersey where the battle lines are being drawn over two separate proposals to erect LNG terminals off the coast.

The first, "Safe Harbor Energy," comes from Atlantic Sea Island Group, a group of private investors who propose to build a man-made island for a LNG facility 13 miles off Long Beach, NY, and 19 miles off Sea Bright, NJ. The second, "Blue Ocean Energy," is ExxonMobil's plan for a floating LNG terminal located 30 miles off Long Island and 20 miles east of New Jersey. (Video)

The Jersey-shore organization, Clean Ocean Action, used Earth Day to formally launch its campaign against both proposals, staging a rally on the beach in Sea Bright which was attended by long-time supporter Rep. Frank J. Pallone Jr., D-N.J.

"If it's not good enough for Long Island Sound, it's sure as hell isn't good enough for our "Clean Ocean Zone,' " declared the group's executive director Cindy Zipf.

If the title of a subsequent Asbury Park Press editorial, LNG proposals pose new threat , left any doubt on where the paper stood, the opening sentence made it crystal clear :

"Plans to build two liquefied natural gas plants about 20 miles off the Monmouth County coast deserve to sink under the weight of major safety and environmental concerns."

But, unlike his fellow governors in New York and Connecticut who sided with opponents of the Broadwater plan, New Jersey's Jon Corzine "realizes that we have a growing generation gap when it comes to our power needs in New Jersey, and LNG facilities must be considered as we move forward in crafting a long-term energy strategy for the state," according to his press secretary Lilo Stainton.

Bergen Record columnist James Ahearn expanded on the Stainton quote on Sunday, declaring: " "Corzine, faced with a confrontation between environmental activists and corporate interests, did not hesitate to choose growth."

What's the smart-money pick in this enviro-political dog fight?

Hard to say. New Jersey's LNG contest is still in the early innings. Let's wait to see were other key state and federal lawmakers line up and whether ExxonMobil and the Atlantic Sea Island Group can do a better job than Broadwater did in articulating their projects' public benefits.

Continuously rising energy prices could help them. Any serious pollution incidents at Jersey beaches this summer, related to LNG or not, could hurt.
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Related
:

Feds urged to overturn OK of Broadwater facility Federal energy regulators are being formally urged by state and local officials and environmentalists in New York and Connecticut to reverse a decision approving the Broadwater liquid natural gas facility.

In TransCanada profit soars, the Toronto Globe and Mail reports that the Power and pipeline company reports a profit of $449 million for the first quarter of 2008 despite a $27 million writedown on previously capitalized costs on the Broadwater project.

In Broadwater's wake. The apparent loss of the Long Island Sound project was not cheered by all. Suffolk Life says that, although Broadwater's project's managers "did a lousy job of selling the concept of a liquefied natural gas platform," the plan did offer benefits, including a $12 million in-lieu of tax payment to Riverhead Town whose school district could use the money because of the town's small industrial tax base.

WSJ Says: Don’t Bet on LNG to Reduce US Natural Gas Prices - Commentary from a blog named It's Getting Hot in Here

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