THE NEW YORK TIMES: Floating Natural Gas Plant Is Proposed for L.I. Sound: “If approved and built, the $700 million gas transfer project would be one of the world's first such offshore operations, industry experts say.”: “The sponsor, Broadwater Energy, filed a letter with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission yesterday to start the application. Broadwater is a partnership formed for the project by TransCanada Corporation of Calgary and Shell U.S. Gas and Power of Houston, an affiliate of Royal Dutch Shell.” (ShellNews.net) 10 Nov 04
By BRUCE LAMBERT
Published: November 10, 2004
Long Island Sound, already crisscrossed by underwater electric cables and a natural gas pipeline, is now envisioned as the site of a floating station where ships will bring more gas to be piped ashore to the New York City region.
If approved and built, the $700 million gas transfer project would be one of the world's first such offshore operations, industry experts say.
But no sooner had the plan been announced yesterday than environmentalists were voicing opposition. And though the site is in New York waters, Connecticut's attorney general, Richard Blumenthal, expressed "grave concerns."
The sponsor, Broadwater Energy, filed a letter with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission yesterday to start the application. Broadwater is a partnership formed for the project by TransCanada Corporation of Calgary and Shell U.S. Gas and Power of Houston, an affiliate of Royal Dutch Shell.
"We want to guarantee a safe and dependable supply of clean gas to meet the area's needs, and we anticipate a broad base of customers," said the project's director, John Hritcko Jr. More gas would help prevent energy shortages and keep down costs, Broadwater says.
Long Island and New York City pay high energy prices because they have no local sources of cheap power, like oil and gas wells, coal-fired generators, nuclear plants or hydropower. Gas is preferred to oil because of lower emissions and less vulnerability to foreign supply disruptions.
The site barely skirts Connecticut's underwater boundary, about nine miles offshore north of Wading River in Suffolk County. There a tower would be anchored to the bottom of the Sound, about 90 feet deep.
The gas plant, a floating structure resembling an ocean tanker and permanently moored to the tower, would be 1,100 feet long, 180 feet wide and up to 100 feet above the waterline, Mr. Hritcko said. Ships would deliver natural gas, cooled to 260 degrees below zero Fahrenheit to make it liquid and thus denser, safer and easier to store and transport.
At the station, the liquid gas would be warmed until it becomes gaseous again. Then it would be sent through a new 25-mile-long pipeline connecting to the existing Iroquois pipeline. From there the gas would be piped to Long Island, New York City and Connecticut for use by electricity generating plants, homes and businesses.
The proposed capacity is one billion cubic feet of natural gas a day, enough for about four million homes, Broadwater said.
Although a few such regasification plants are on land or at waterfronts, none are offshore, said Robert N. Shively, a partner in Enerdymanics, an energy information company in Laporte, Colo. Two offshore proposals are pending in the Gulf of Mexico and another off California, he said.
Critics were quick to react. "The last thing we need is an industrial monstrosity sitting in the middle of Long Island Sound," said Adrienne Esposito, executive director of the Citizens Campaign for the Environment, a statewide group. "It's already a very vulnerable, stressed water body. Why would we put one more threat? We've worked so hard to protect the Sound. I can't imagine this is going to be embraced by the environmental community."
Mr. Blumenthal said: "Especially critical, close scrutiny should be given to any proposal that potentially endangers Long Island Sound. A massive container filled with a flammable, dangerous substance certainly raises grave concerns, particularly when linked to a new pipeline."
More projects for liquid natural gas are proposed than approved. The Broadwater plan requires approvals from the energy commission, Coast Guard, Army Corps of Engineers and New York's Department of Environmental Conservation. No local approval is needed, Mr. Hritcko said. He said the project would pay $15 million a year in taxes and funds that could be used for the environment.
Gas projects raise safety concerns, and Broadwater has hired the company run by Rudolph W. Giuliani, the former mayor of New York, to devise security measures.
Liquid gas is not combustible, but it can become so as it turns gaseous. Liquid gas plants "have very solid safety records," Mr. Shively said. Even if an accident happened, advocates of the project say that harm would not extend beyond the station and its 30-member crew.
While proponents say that leaks would simply dissipate, Ms. Esposito said they would harm the already compromised air and water.
The Long Island Power Authority, which would very likely use the natural gas or buy the electricity generated by it, sounded a cautious note. "Obviously Long Island is in need of additional energy resources if we want to keep the lights on," said its president, Richard M. Kessel. "At the same time, the Long Island Sound belongs to everyone, and there are environmental concerns."