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Lloyds List: Key US LNG plan wins federal support

But opposition to proposed Long Island terminal is unlikely to die down, writes Rajesh Joshi in New York, Lloyds List
Published: Nov 22, 2006

FEDERAL energy officials in the US have said the proposed Broadwater liquefied natural gas terminal in the middle of Long Island Sound would have little impact on the environment, handing a victory to the project’s promoters, Trans- Canada and Shell.

However, opposition to the project, which replicates similar protests to other proposed LNG sites around the US, is not expected to die down.

These comments are expected to be aired during public hearings on the subject scheduled through to early 2007.

The draft environmental impact statement issued by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission in co-operation with other state and national bodies including the US Coast Guard, has concluded that ‘construction and operation of the proposed project, with the adoption of FERC and USCG recommendations, would result in limited adverse environmental impacts.’

The FERC statement came two months after the USCG issued its own assessment, which was strictly academic in nature and covered only safety and security.

Although technically offshore, the project falls within US coastal limits, giving the FERC and not the USCG jurisdiction over its approval.

The FERC study delved into multiple aspects of the project, including environmental impact, economic aspects and aesthetic and commercial angles.

The FERC concluded that the project met all these criteria and that in fact the region could use the extra gas generated by Broadwater.

Local community interests slammed the environmental impact statement immediately, one official remarking: ‘It seems Broadwater wrote the report for FERC.’

TransCanada and Shell visualise 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, 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 a pipeline. A proposed two to three LNG carrier calls of 125,000 cu m to 250,000 cu m per week are expected.

Captain Peter Boynton, USCG Captain of the Port for Sector Long Island Sound, told a Connecticut Maritime Association luncheon in Stamford last week that he was cognisant of the local communities’ dread of overbearing federal officials.

Capt Boynton said during his more than dozen moves around the US as part of his Coast Guard job, and in his capacity as ordinary citizen and resident, he was often at the receiving end of federal officials promoting development projects.

That is why, he explained, his team’s study of Broadwater was predicated on compassion and common sense. The USCG report ‘neither supports nor opposes’ Broadwater, he added.

The USCG report has concluded that subject to some mitigatory recommendations, Broadwater would have little adverse safety and security impacts.

Nonetheless, the fact that the LNG ship calls would increase ‘similar-sized’ ship traffic in the Sound by 20% as opposed to an ‘overall’ increase of less than 1% could matter to certain interests, Capt Boynton conceded.

These qualitative issues would be the cynosure of the upcoming public hearings, with local politicians weighing in on why Broadwater is bad.

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