Bahamas LNG Stalemate Prompts Suez to Plan Offshore Florida LNG Port
With no action for many months from the Bahamas government on its application for a liquefied natural gas (LNG) import terminal in Freeport, Suez Energy North America has changed its strategy and is now planning to file an application for another U.S. LNG terminal offshore Florida (see Daily GPI, Jan. 27, 2004).
CEO William P. Utt said the new project basically would be a carbon copy of Suez's Neptune LNG facility planned for offshore Massachusetts. Suez currently operates the Everett, MA, LNG terminal near Boston but inadequate expansion space has forced it to look offshore. Utt said the same type of project could work off Florida's coast.
"We have not heard anything from the Bahamas in about a year," Utt said during a briefing with reporters in Boston on Wednesday. "We are continuing to try to engage in a dialogue. We have very good relations with the Grand Bahama Port Authority around Freeport; it has been a very good sponsor for us. But the government, for reasons I will leave to the government, has not elected to move forward on issuing any permits for any of the sites in the Bahamas."
There originally were three LNG import projects proposed for the Bahamas: Ocean Cay, sponsored by AES Corp.; Hawksbill Creek, proposed by Suez; and a third project proposed by El Paso and FPL Group. FPL, El Paso and Suez later agreed that they would combine their projects and utilize the more attractive of the two locations on Grand Bahama Island. AES had planned to develop its terminal on its own man-made island. Both AES and Suez already have FERC certificated pipeline projects that would deliver the regasified LNG to the Florida peninsula from the Bahamas.
"The government before was very pro business and things got done," said Utt. "This government that exists today appears less able to evaluate and feel comfortable making commitments for industrial development. They are very focused on tourism. Some of our programs had been to improve the tourism in the Bahamas. I think a lot of folks are frustrated.
"I had dinner last night with a gentleman from AES and we were kind of joking about our mutual stalemate that we have in the Bahamas. Neither one of us is sure what will happen" (see Daily GPI, Jan. 23).
In the meantime, Utt said Suez is moving forward quickly with its plans for an offshore Florida LNG terminal, much like the one it has proposed offshore Gloucester, MA (see Daily GPI, Oct. 7, 2005). He said having two offshore terminals in the Atlantic with similar designs that would incorporate ships with onboard regasification actually would improve the economics of both projects.
"The pipeline already is approved so we will just truncate it offshore," said Utt. "It will be far enough offshore so that the visual impact and the safety impact should be very remote to any Floridian." He said the offshore LNG project would have a sendout capacity of about 800,000 Dth/d.
"We are actively putting together our applications for [the offshore Florida terminal]," he added. "We may be filing that in the next 60 days."
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