LNG Export Application Approved

By Michael R. Brown

The US Department of Energy has approved the Down East LNG application for export. This is one of many permitting agencies whose approval is required as the applications proceed. According to DELNG permitting specialist Robert Wyatt, the geological work has been completed and lab analysis is ongoing. Ground motion analysis should be finished by the end of March with the final report anticipated by the end of April. All of this applies to the additional application for export, since the import application has already been approved. The revised LNG tank design will take two to three months for a draft report. The tanks need to be redesigned to be used for both import and export, increasing the cost of the tanks by several hundred thousand dollars above the original import filing. According to Wyatt, “It will be easy because we’ve already gone through updates to the liquefaction process and how that changes the facility.”

Wyatt estimates “ideally” it will take 90 days in the fall till the end of the year for the supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (EIS). Permitting by the state and the Corps of Engineers will run parallel in fall 2015 and “should be identical” to what it was for the approved importing. Wyatt expects the final Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) order—or denial--of the total project to occur by March 2016.

If approved, Wyatt said other investors will come along to fund the construction and take a larger investment in the facility. He said, though, that “The energy investment world is diverse. This shale gas caused everyone to tighten up. If gas goes up, it will speed up investment.” He also noted that, once approved and if construction is interrupted for too long, “If you take time for stopping, you have to do ‘deconstructing.’ Typically, you bow out. It’s in the EIS.”

Once approved, Wyatt estimated tank construction will take three years and building the pier will take two years. Construction of the pipeline will be staged, and environmental concerns regarding eagles, lobsters, bats, migrations and other seasonal matters may halt various aspects of the project for as much as half a year total. The estimate for completion of construction is three-and-a-quarter to four years before commercial operation. Wyatt said, “The state will probably be the most incremental because it will require bonding.”

On every second Monday, DELNG and relevant organizations have conference telephone calls relating to progress on the permitting process.

Meanwhile, FERC’s General Counsel David Morenoff  has emailed Robert Godfrey of Save Passamaquoddy Bay to complain that Godfrey’s communications regarding both pre-filing and formal filing proceedings are to be considered ex parte, the latter being prohibited from formal filing. Godfrey’s reply was that “Public stakeholders’ rights should not be abridged due to applicants’ out-of-sequence business decisions.” He added, “Communications regarding issues on the Pre-Filing document are not ex parte; thus are Constitutionally protected free speech.”

 

In a communication to FERC in February, Passamaquoddy Pleasant Point Tribal Chief Fred Moore expressed the tribe's opposition to the proposed Downeast LNG import-export project owing to the damage it would cause to area ecology and tribal rights.