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Lloyds List: Broadwater survey stokes local anger

By: Opponents claim proposed floating LNG terminal has security and safety shortcomings, writes Rajesh Joshi in New York, Lloyds List
Published: Sep 28, 2006

A US Coast Guard assessment of the proposed Broadwater liquefied natural gas terminal in New York’s Long Island Sound has set off a renewed round of opposition to the controversial project.

Opponents hitching their wagons to the anti-Broadwater cause include several regional Democratic candidates for Congressional elections in November, as well as Connecticut state attorney general Richard Blumenthal.

In public statements this week they lambasted the project for its supposed security and safety shortcomings and raised grave questions about who would pay to address these, all but ruling out Congressional funding towards this end.

A formal approval of Broadwater is awaited from the US Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, and is subject to an environmental analysis as part of this process.

TransCanada and Shell are the sponsors behind Broadwater. It visualises a floating liquefied natural gas terminal in Long Island Sound, the body of water separating the states of New York and Connecticut.

The terminal would be at the mid-point of the widest portion of the sound, but in New York waters. It would comprise a ‘ship-like’ floating storage regasification unit, or FSRU, 370 m long and 60 m wide.

The FSRU would store 350,000 cu m of LNG, which would be fed into the regional power grid via pipeline. A proposed two to three LNG carrier calls of 125,000 cu m to 250,000 cu m per week are expected.

Broadwater’s stance is that the region needs the gas. New York and Connecticut currently consume 3.8bn cu ft of gas per day, and Broadwater is promising up to 1bn cu ft a day more.

However, opponents have held up the impediment to commercial as well as recreational shipping in the Sound because of increased safety and security requirements concerning the FSRU. Environmentalists have raised the impact on fisheries.

Although technically offshore, the project falls within US coastal limits, giving the FERC and not the USCG the final authority to approve or scuttle it.

However, the USCG’s recommendatory report something the agency took pains to paint as ‘neutral’ has only added to the fire.

Peter Boynton, US Coast Guard Captain of the Port for Long Island Sound, said ‘additional measures would be necessary [on the part of the promoters] to responsibly manage safety and security risks’ so as to make the commercial waters suitable for LNG traffic.

Capt Boynton says these efforts need to be a mix of USCG, local law enforcement and Broadwater actions.

Recommendations to Broadwater include measures to prevent the FSRU from being set adrift; developing an emergency response plan; increased safety staffing onboard and a tightened ship arrival-departure and tug regime.

The USCG, for its part, would strive to work with the FERC on review and approval.

However, politicians’ statements this week have already underlined the potential difficulty the federal agency would encounter in getting Congress to cough up more cash.

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