Friday, October 01, 2004

Utility decries 'scare tactics' over LNG

An energy company spokesman predicts that officials will eventually recognize that large quantities of LNG can be transferred safely from tanker ships.

01:00 AM EDT on Friday, October 1, 2004

Journal Staff Writer

The governors of Rhode Island and Massachusetts and dozens of lower level officials refuse to support plans for a new natural gas facility in Fall River because they've been influenced by inaccurate propaganda, the project's developer said yesterday.

A spokesman for Weaver's Cove Energy, James A. Grasso, said "scare tactics" have helped keep officials on the fence in both states.

"I think because of the amount of misinformation and because of the amount of misunderstanding, coupled with scare tactics, all of the public officials that are opposed are seeking more information," said Grasso.

Grasso predicted that officials will eventually recognize that large quantities of liquefied natural gas can be offloaded from tanker ships without jeopardizing public safety or fouling the environment.

The spokesman's remarks were a reaction to Carcieri's decision to withdraw his support for two different LNG projects that would bring aircraft-carrier size tanker ships to Fall River and Providence via Narragansett Bay.

On Wednesday, Carcieri's spokesman, Jeff Neal, said the governor isn't convinced that LNG tankers can ply Rhode Island's waters without compromising security or endangering the environment.

By yesterday, the carefully worded change in the governor's stance had already brought relief to some of the project's leading opponents, including Rhode Island Attorney General Patrick C. Lynch. But to others, it wasn't quite enough.

Rep. Raymond Gallison, D-Bristol, suggested that the administration is leaving the door open when it says its reason for opposing the projects, for the time being, is that developers have not done enough to resolve matters of security or concerns about potential environmental damage.

"I don't believe we need any more research or any more studies," Gallison said.

At this point, it is already clear that a tanker ship carrying LNG would "represent a target of opportunity" as it motors through the Bay, according to Gallison.

"We don't need to leave the door open at all," Gallison said. "The door should be completely closed."

"It doesn't warrant any further study," he added.

Several scientific studies, including a report commissioned by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, have shown that large amounts of spilled LNG are capable of fueling catastrophic fires under certain conditions.

The experts noted that liquefied natural gas is incapable of feeding a fire until it comes into contact with air and vaporizes into a specific concentration of natural gas. Even then, something has to ignite the flammable plume of gas, they say.

Gallison and other critics say officials cannot ignore that possibility.

The burden of guarding against the threat falls on shoreline communities, he said.

Lynch agreed. But he said he is satisfied with the governor's reassessment of the issue.

"I always take the governor in good faith," he said, adding that he hopes to see Carcieri speak out when the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission takes feedback from the public.

The comment period for the Fall River plan has elapsed, but hearings are still in the offing for the project that KeySpan has proposed at Fields Point in Providence. The developer wants permission to equip an existing LNG facility to receive LNG from tanker ships.

A spokeswoman for KeySpan, Carmen Fields, declined to comment on the administration's new stance.

Meanwhile, Lynch said he hoped Carcieri's new position would help him rally Rhode Islanders to his cause.

"People are really not focused in Rhode Island," Lynch said.

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Herald Tribune Florida...Fish Kills, Fish Extinction follow LNG Path of Destruction?

Article published Sep 29, 2004
Scientists fear LNG terminals could hurt fishing

The Associated Press

NEW ORLEANS The construction of more than a dozen liquid natural gas terminals along the coast could damage commercial fishing in the Gulf of Mexico, federal scientists are warning.

Two terminals have been approved for the coast of Louisiana. Compass Port, a subsidiary of ConocoPhillips Corp., also wants to build a terminal in Gulf waters 11 miles off Dauphin Island, Ala.

But the Coast Guard suspended the permitting process for at least two other terminals in August after scientists raised warnings about possible harm to the fishing industry.

The problem occurs when LNG is heated back into gaseous form with a process that sucks in Gulf water containing potentially millions of fish and crustacean eggs and larvae. Natural gas is cooled to minus-260 degrees to turn it into a liquid that can be shipped in huge tankers from wells around the world to the Gulf.

In the "once-through" system, the terminals would first heat the water to convert the gas, then rapidly cool it for return to the Gulf.

If the organisms are not killed by the temperature drop, they will not survive being banged around by the pump machinery or the harsh chemicals used to keep the inside of the pipes clean, said scientists with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, or NOAA.

In a series of environmental impact statements for the terminals, most of the companies have said using a less-damaging closed-loop heating system consumes too much of the natural gas as a heat source.

The extra cost might undercut the financial viability of the projects and increase air pollution problems, the companies said

Gov. Kathleen Blanco is strongly backing the development of LNG terminals, saying they would create 13,000 jobs and preserve over 11,000 existing jobs.

But NOAA officials say the risk of wiping out entire species of commercially important fish in the Gulf, such as red drum and red snapper, is too much to allow the once-through system.

NOAA officials acknowledge a lack of basic information about the population sizes of various commercial and noncommercial fish and crustacean species in the Gulf, and a limited understanding of how killing millions or even billions of eggs or larvae could affect those species.

But most of the terminals will be offshore of the coastal estuaries where many fish live and reproduce, thus increasing the risk, NOAA says.

The Coast Guard has approved permits for ChevronTexaco's Port Pelican terminal, to be located 40 miles off the mouth of the Calcasieu River in southwest Louisiana, and El Paso Corp.'s proposed Energy Bridge terminal 116 miles south of Cameron in January.

Two other LNG projects - McMoRan Exploration's Main Pass Energy Hub off the southeast coast and Shell Oil Co.'s Gulf Landing Terminal off the mouth of the Calcasieu River - have been put on hold by the Coast Guard until the companies answer questions about their estimates of potential kills of eggs and larvae.


Save The Quoddy Life....Drop LNG Terminal Plans