Mariners' Group Supports Proposed LNG Port

Calling the venture "an essential energy development that requires the most highly skilled and trained personnel," the Marine Engineers' Beneficial Association (MEBA) has endorsed BHP Billiton's proposal to build a liquefied natural gas (LNG) facility approximately 20 miles off the coast of Oxnard, California.

"We believe that BHP is committed to enhancing America's national energy security and protecting its local safety needs," said Ron Davis, MEBA's president. "After careful consideration and thorough review of the most significant safety and environmental considerations, our organization has decided to support the Cabrillo Port LNG project and we urge its approval by state and federal policymakers."

MEBA represents U.S. Coast Guard-licensed marine officers who work on freight, tanker, and passenger vessels engaged in both domestic and international trade.

Using LNG carriers, BHP proposes to supply natural gas from Australia's northwest shelf and deliver it to a state-of-the-art facility (a Floating Storage and Re-gasification Unit, or FSRU) located offshore that will connect to new and existing natural gas pipelines. The offshore facility will use industry-leading technology and be located approximately 20 miles from the nearest major population center.

"BHP recognizes the critical need to help guard against security threats to protect the very markets that it intends to service, and we believe it is committed to fulfilling this critical objective using U.S. Coast Guard Licensed and credentialed mariners, all of whom are highly trained and skilled professionals who represent a largely untapped vital source of labor in an international LNG market that is otherwise suffering from a severe shortage of qualified mariners," said Davis.

MEBA added that because the Cabrillo Port project is located far from both the shore and international shipping lanes, it has unique safety characteristics not shared by other LNG projects under consideration throughout the U.S. However, the organization urged that the proposal include a requirement that U.S. Coast Guard-licensed and credentialed mariners work on-board the LNG carriers and aboard the FSRU.

"The best way to ensure the safest and most secure means to prevent breaches of national security affecting our country's import of LNG to West Coast markets is with U.S. Coast Guard Licensed Officers and credentialed merchant mariners on the vessels and receiving FSRU terminals," said Davis. "Our officers have well over twenty years' experience working as licensed deck and engine officers aboard LNG carriers. There is simply no legitimate alternative."

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