"For much of the state of Maine, the environment is the economy"
2016 June 27
PITTSBURGH — Royal Dutch Shell’s decision to build its ethane cracker near Monaca, Pa. and Dominion Resources’ plans to export liquefied natural gas from from the Cove Point facility in Maryland give industry leaders hope that demand for their products will continue to grow.
As drillers dig deeper and farther to achieve maximum output from wells, the limits of the Marcellus and Utica shale boom continue to stretch.
“We are building crackers,” said Bernadette Johnson, managing director of Ponderosa Advisors, which provides analytical research for the industry, said while speaking during the 2016 DUG East Conference this week. “This is very good for the Marcellus and Utica region.”
Construction of Dominion’s Cove Point LNG export facility is 38 percent complete, according to the company’s May update filed with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.
During May, engineering reached 99.8 percent completion while engineered equipment procurement is at 99 percent.
On June 1, 2016, FERC granted the joint application of Elba Liquefaction Company, L.L.C. (“ELC”) and Southern LNG Company, L.L.C. (“Southern LNG”) requesting authorization to construct and operate new natural gas liquefaction and export facilities at Southern LNG’s existing liquefied natural gas (“LNG”) terminal located on Elba Island, Chatham County, Georgia (the “Elba Liquefaction Project”). FERC also granted Southern LNG’s request to abandon its LNG truck loading facilities at the terminal. In the same order, FERC granted the separate application of Elba Express Company, L.L.C. (“Elba Express”) to add north-to-south transportation capacity to the existing Elba Express pipeline system by constructing and operating additional compressors at the existing Hartwell Compressor Station in Hart County, Georgia, and constructing and operating two new compressor stations in Jefferson and Effingham Counties, Georgia (the “Elba Express Modification Project”). Elba Express proposed this expansion in part to enable Elba Express to transport domestic natural gas on a firm basis to the Elba Liquefaction Project.
In granting the requested authorizations, the Commission reviewed in detail and rejected various objections raised by environmental groups and others to the environmental assessment (“EA”) prepared by Commission Staff.
Webmaster's comment: FERC's dismissal of environmental objections to the project is par for the course.
PORT OF BROWNSVILLE – “They are not like belching-smoke-kinds-of facilities, so you don’t see anything. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t emissions.”
“It can’t be that black and white,” she says about the environmental effects of LNG. “Otherwise, people wouldn’t spend years arguing. Then, when we get into the research, it isn’t black and white. You have to dig deep and it depends on sensitivities, too.”
The U.S. Department of Energy National Energy Technology Laboratory reports the Greenhouse Gas emissions of the LNG process, from natural gas extraction through usage, contributes emissions of mainly carbon dioxide and methane.
About one-tenth of that is directly related to the liquefaction process. Another 5 percent is from the tanker transportation and regasification. About 75 percent of the emissions are from the power plant operations at the end of the process in which the gas goes to homes and is used.
“One difficulty has been, for decades, the industry wasn’t transparent at all,” she said. “They didn’t have to be. These (facilities) were built in Qatar, Nigeria and a lot of places where there was no reason to be transparent and no environmental community to enforce it.”
While the emissions are important, Sakmar said there are two other activities that have what she sees as the most environmentally impactful – ship traffic and the need for dredging. [Colored & bold emphasis added.]
Michael Hightower, of Sandia Laboratories Energy Systems and Analysis Department, has written reports for the federal government regarding the safety of LNG shipping and he has several conclusions.
[W]hile the risks seem minimal due to the double-hulled nature of the ships, Hightower understands what those in the area want to know regarding the movement of these tankers and the cryogenic liquid inside them.
[I]t’s still best to be as far away from populated areas as possible, like the Cheniere facility in Sabine Pass, Louisiana.
“That, from my standpoint, is good. It is not impacting people,” he said about that remote LNG plant location. “Selecting locations of transits that impact people the least. If you can’t get far enough away, then you can do the management and mitigation to try to reduce the likelihood and severity of the spill. Make sure in case it does happen, the fewest number of people are impacted.” [Colored & bold emphasis added.]
Webmaster's comment: Sandia National Laboratories defined the 2.2-mile-radius LNG ship Hazard Zones.
A global glut of liquefied natural gas is creating questions about when a “second wave” of LNG export projects will move forward after Cheniere Energy’s first shipments out of Louisiana this year.
Five U.S. LNG export projects are under construction, including in Freeport and Corpus Christi, but many are awaiting both regulatory approval and corporate decisions on whether to invest billions of dollars during a market downturn.
Perhaps the most brazen project is The Woodlands-based NextDecade’s Rio Grande LNG project in Texas. NextDecade proposes building what could be the nation’s largest LNG export facility, with the first of three phases scheduled to come online in 2020. The $6 billion project would be constructed on 1,000 acres at the Port of Brownsville near the Mexican border. [Colored & bold emphasis added.]
Environmentalists won in their recent fight against liquefied natural gas in Oregon, and they believe they can win in Brownsville, too.
The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, the agency that grants permission for such facilities, denied Jordan Cove’s application to build an LNG export facility at Coos Bay, Oregon, in large measure because the applicants for the permit were unable to demonstrate that the benefits of such a facility outweighed the “potential for adverse impact on landowners and the communities,” FERC said in its denial issued in March.
In a 25-page order, the federal regulators based its denial of a permit because the company seeking the permit “presented little or no evidence of need” for such a facility.
“These companies want to create an infrastructure for fossil fuels and this is a time when we need to turn away from that,” [Lower Rio Grande Valley Sierra Club chairman Jim Chapman] said. “But this would be a commitment for 30 years of fossil fuels.”
“I don’t think you can say LNG is clean burning,” [Susan Sakmar, author of “Energy for the 21st Century: Opportunities and Challenges for Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG)”] said. “You have to get the gas, liquefy it and ship it.” [Colored & bold emphasis added.]
BROWNSVILLE — Two companies have now officially filed their applications for review to build liquefied natural gas facilities at the Port of Brownsville. A local non-profit agency is now doing its part to help concerned citizens voice their opinions about the companies setting up shop in their communities.
Residents in Cameron County recently received flyers in the mail sent out by the non-profit group Texas Rio Grande Legal Aid.
Attorney Katherine Youker said many of their clients are worried about how a liquefied natural gas company could affect their health and their livelihoods. She said those working in the shrimping and coastal tourism industries are especially worried these LNG companies will have negative effects on their markets.
Two days ago, Rio Grande LNG filed for project review with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. Texas LNG filed for official review in March. And Annova LNG is still in its pre-filing stages.
The attorneys for Texas Rio Grande Legal Aid said they’ve prepared responses for several residents in Cameron County and have submitted those to be considered during this review period. They said the time to voice concerns is now.
Cheniere Energy recently filed a letter with the U.S. Federal Energy Regulatory Commission withdrawing its application to build truck loading facilities at its Sabine Pass LNG terminal in Cameron Parish, Louisiana.
According to the company’s filing with FERC, the application is being withdrawn as “its customers are focused primarily on the completion of construction and placement in service of the liquefaction trains at the Sabine Pass liquefaction project at present.”
The state House and Senate Resources committees are due to meet June 29 for a scheduled update from industry and state officials on the big pipeline and liquefied natural gas project.
Alaska is a partner in Alaska LNG with the three major North Slope producers, BP, ConocoPhillips and ExxonMobil.
The hot topic will be Gov. Bill Walker’s desire for the state to move into the lead role on the giant project, which became public this week in remarks to the press by Keith Meyer, newly-appointed president of the Alaska Gasline Development Corp., the state gas corporation that is the entity representing Alaska’s interest.
Sen. Anna MacKinnon, R-Eagle River, was also at the Commonwealth North meeting, and said, “We’ve been asking about this for quite a while,” and have not been getting answers.
“We’ve been asking why we need to be spending $1 million a month on attorneys, including some brought in from London, and we were told that all of this was on work that was ‘inside the lanes,’ to support the present partnership structure,” and not on a new go-it-alone strategy, MacKinnon told Commonwealth North.
The gas project is now forecast to cost between $45 billion and $65 billion, but a revised cost estimate is being doing as part of preliminary engineering work now underway.
Self-proclaimed “gas guy,” and, as of June 15, Alaska Gasline Development Corp. President and CEO, Keith Meyer views one of the largest and most complex projects the country has ever seen more simply, as the “logistics infrastructure of moving gas from the supply point to a market point,” he said in an June 21 interview with the Journal.
A 35-year veteran of the energy industry, he oversaw the development of the Sabine Pass LNG terminal on the Texas-Louisiana line as president of Cheniere LNG. Sabine Pass was once the largest LNG import terminal in the country and has become an export facility after the shale gas revolution.
With producers as upstream customers of the project contracting for space in the pipe and capacity in the liquefaction plant, the end buyers of LNG are then customers of the producers, or the state, with its share of gas, and not direct customers of the Alaska LNG Project.
…Alaska is a direct sail to all the potential Asian markets; while Lower 48 competitor selling LNG have to go through a third country, Panama, to reach Pacific customers.
Squamish First Nations chiefs and councilors have approved a new pipeline and compressor station that will provide natural gas to the Woodfibre LNG plant in Squamish.
The Squamish Nation last year approved the Woodfibre liquefied natural gas plant itself, which also received federal approval in March.
“Squamish Nation has approval authority over aspects of the project that are much stronger than allowing the provincial government to monitor and enforce its conditions and plans.”
The environmental review of a Petronas-led liquefied natural gas project in western Canada has resumed, starting the clock on a final three-month extension granted by the federal government, Canada's environmental regulator said on Monday.
The ruling Liberals have committed to announcing a final decision on the Pacific NorthWest LNG project by the end of September.
Over the past two years, oil prices have dropped precipitously, bringing natural gas prices down with them. Twenty LNG export projects were once proposed for the B.C. coast—now, some analysts say it's possible none will move forward. Northeast B.C. has consistently had the province's highest unemployment rate this year. [Colored & bold emphasis added.]
The clock is ticking on Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s first big test on climate action.
The federal cabinet is set to make its final decision on Petronas’ controversial Pacific NorthWest LNG (liquefied natural gas) project by the end of September. If Trudeau allows the project to proceed, it will be impossible for Canada to meet its international climate commitments.
The Pacific NorthWest LNG project, which would export liquefied fracked gas from B.C.’s north coast at the mouth of the Skeena River, could result in the collapse of Canada’s second-largest salmon run. It faces opposition from many First Nations in the Skeena region.
Trudeau has promised to take a leadership role in fighting climate change and transitioning Canada to a cleaner economy. With the recent signing of the Paris Agreement to fight climate change, the Trudeau government committed Canada to a 30-per-cent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2030.
If built, the project would completely undermine Canada’s international climate change commitments. The Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency has found the emissions of the proposed Pacific Northwest LNG terminal and associated upstream fracked gas development would be “high in magnitude, continuous, irreversible and global in extent.”
There are many Asian countries where LNG consumption would be added to coal consumption, instead of replacing it. Greenhouse gas emissions from fracking, transportation, liquefaction and re-gasification also significantly reduce LNG’s benefits over coal when the whole cycle is taken into account.
The B.C. government may be tempting Ottawa with the prospect of finally providing provincial blessing on the Kinder Morgan tarsands pipeline in return for federal approval of Petronas’ LNG project. Trading one destructive project for another, ending up with two climate fiascos instead of none, is not climate leadership.
Trudeau promised to make decisions based on evidence. In this case, the evidence is clear. It’s time to reject the Pacific NorthWest LNG project. [Colored & bold emphasis added.]
On the 19th of June the Pipeline Safety Act came into force, making important changes to the National Energy Board Act, and to some extent the Canada Oil and Gas Operations Act.
The most significant changes to the Act relate to absolute liability and financial resource requirements, abandonment, pipeline releases, damage prevention, as well as audit and enforcement powers.
The study by Stanford scientists assessed the amount of groundwater that could be used for irrigation and drinking supplies in five counties of California's agricultural Central Valley, as well as the three coastal counties encompassing Los Angeles, Santa Barbara and Ventura. The study estimated that water-scarce California could have almost three times as much fresh groundwater as previously thought.
But the authors also found that oil and gas activity occurred in underground freshwater formations in seven of the eight counties. Most of the activity was light, but in the Central Valley's Kern County, the hub of the state's oil industry, 15 to 19 percent of oil and gas activity occurs in freshwater zones, the authors estimated.
The study arrives as California grapples with the possible impact of past oil and gas activity on its groundwater resources and the push to develop new fossil fuel reservoirs through hydraulic fracturing, or fracking. In 2014, state officials admitted that for years they had allowed oil and gas companies to pump billions of gallons of wastewater into more than 2,000 disposal wells located in federally protected aquifers. In 2015, Kern County officials found hundreds of unlined, unregulated wastewater pits, often near farm fields. Oil and gas wastewater is highly saline and laced with toxic substances, such as the carcinogen benzene.
Fracking into USDWs [Underground Sources of Drinking Water] is legal, but the oil and gas industry has long insisted that fracking occurs far deeper than where aquifers are located. Kang and Jackson found that oil and gas activity could be found in one in three USDWs within the eight counties they studied.
A March 2016 study Jackson co-authored showed that oil and gas companies fracked into relatively shallow groundwater in Pavillion, Wyoming, and the water contained chemicals related to substances that companies reported using in local fracking operations. These included diesel-related and volatile organic compounds, such as benzene and the neurotoxin toluene. [Colored & bold emphasis added.]
BLM [Bureau of Land Management] approval of the right of way did not violate the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, even assuming that the project would result in migratory bird fatalities, where BLM was acting in a “purely regulatory capacity” and nothing BLM did would be a proximate cause of any “take” of migratory birds. [Colored & bold emphasis added.]
According to the data, Sabine Pass Liquefaction LLC exported a total of 21 508 223 million ft3 of LNG since the first shipment to Brazil onboard the Asia Vision tanker in February 2016. Following that shipment, a further six cargoes of LNG departed the terminal up until 25 April 2016, delivering to India, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Argentina and Portugal. The price at export point ranged from US$3.35/million Btu to US$4.10/million Btu.
The data also shows that American LNG Marketing LLC exported a total of 7432 million ft3 of LNG in ISO containers from Miami, Florida, US to Barbados in the first four months of 2016.
The US also imported 34.8 billion ft3 of LNG from Trinidad in the first four months of 2016, according to the data. This figure stedily declined from 12 billion ft3 of LNG in January 2016 to just 4.7 billion ft3 of LNG in April 2016.
The Panama canal Authority on Sunday will inaugurate a third set of locks after a US$5.2 billion expansion project that will accelerate transit while allowing larger vessels to pass through.
Vessels transporting liquefied natural gas will start passing through in August, the Authority added. LNG facilities are expected to be built as a second phase of the canal expansion.
LONDON -- McKinsey Energy Insights (MEI), a data and analytics specialist, predicts in its latest research that LNG oversupply could last until 2024. As a result, this could mean that few LNG projects will reach final investment decision (FID) in the next 12 to 18 months.
MEI’s research shows that the current global LNG supply glut is exacerbated by the 100 mtpa of new export terminal capacity currently under construction in the U.S. and Australia. Furthermore, by 2019 oversupply will peak at 60 mtpa. [Colored & bold emphasis added.]
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