The Quoddy Tides

Eastport, Maine

2008 Jul 25

Quoddy Bay LNG requests another BEP postponement

by Marie Jones Holmes

Quoddy Bay LNG is seeking another postponement of a pre-hearing conference before the Maine Board of Environmental Protection (BEP). In a July 23 letter from Quoddy Bay Project Manager Brian Smith to BEP Chairman Ernest Hilton, Quoddy Bay requests that the board postpone the pre-hearing conferences until the end of January 2009. Smith writes, "Quoddy Bay has considered the state of its application carefully and has taken many factors into consideration before reaching the decision to make this request." Quoddy Bay proposes to build a liquefied natural gas (LNG) facility at Pleasant Point and storage facilities at Perry.

Earlier, the board granted Quoddy Bay's April 29, 2008, request for a September pre-hearing conference but stipulated that Quoddy Bay must file any amendments to its pending application by the end of this month.

Smith stated, "As the board well knows, the major impetus behind the requested delays for a pre-hearing conference are associated with Quoddy Bay's ongoing efforts to minimize its project costs and environmental impact by determining whether a nitrogen mitigation plant will be necessary."

Smith points out that Quoddy Bay cannot move forward with a September pre-hearing conference because there may still be a need to amend the application beyond the end of July. "Quoddy Bay thus asks the chair to grant a postponement of the pre-hearing conference. If granted, Quoddy Bay will work to complete the tasks presently facing the company and file any amendments to the application as soon as possible."

According to the letter, Quoddy Bay does not believe that a further postponement would prejudice the interested parties or unnecessarily inconvenience agency staff. Smith writes, "Until amendments to Quoddy Bay's applications are filed and a pre-hearing conference moves forward, the interested parties and agencies do not need to allocate any measurable amount of resources to the Quoddy Bay proceedings."

In a July 2 letter to the board, a group called Robbinston Residents in Support of Downeast LNG asked the BEP to deny the Quoddy Bay LNG application for the construction of a natural gas facility at Pleasant Point, stating that Quoddy Bay's repeated requests for postponement are an abuse of the BEP hearing process. The letter stated, "It is clear that Quoddy Bay has no idea what its proposal will ultimately look like and Quoddy Bay is simply stalling to bide time." The letter pointed out that Quoddy Bay has requested four postponements, totaling almost one year. Earlier this year the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) notified Quoddy Bay that it was suspending the review of the company's application because of insufficient information.

The BEP held a hearing on July 17 to consider the request by the Robbinston group and Downeast LNG to deny Quoddy Bay's application. By a vote of 6 to 3, the BEP members voted not to reject the application. The board members took their vote after hearing presentations from lawyers representing both Downeast LNG and Quoddy Bay LNG.

Cindy Bertocci, executive analyst for the BEP, says, "Quoddy Bay applications are still pending. We are still awaiting information on the design of the facility. I think the delay is related to the British thermal units [BTU] content." LNG heat content varies from country to country, and sometimes there is a need to construct a nitrogen plant to dilute the high BTU content of the gas. Quoddy Bay has not yet determined the type facility needed.

Bertocci says BEP chairman Hilton is in receipt of the letter July 23 letter requesting a January 2009 postponement and the board will review the request and make a decision in the near future.

On July 15, Quoddy Bay President Donald Smith announced that the project will move forward despite the recent company decisions to delay hearings. According to Smith, Quoddy Bay may also relocate its send-out pipeline after requests from the state to consider co-location with two other proposed projects nearby, Downeast LNG and Calais LNG. Smith says, "We are evaluating alternative routes seriously to determine whether our current route is best for all three, or if there is another route which serves all three and the state of Maine best."


© 2008 The Quoddy Tides
Eastport, Maine
Article republished on Save Passamaquoddy Bay website with permission.