TYPE: Natural Gas
OPPOSITION: Environmental groups, local residents
BACKGROUND: GDF Suez Energy North America announced in February 2005 that it sought to build a deepwater liquefied natural gas (LNG) port, called Neptune LNG, 10 miles off the coast of Gloucester, Massachusetts. Natural gas would be transported and converted from liquid to gaseous state on specially-designed ships that would moor at the port and connect to a specially-designed subsea pipeline, bringing the gas to shore. Neptune LNG would cost $1 billion to construct, and once operational would transport an average of 400 million cubic feet per day (mmcf/d) of natural gas, with peak output of 750 mmcf/d.
Environmental groups and local residents voiced opposition to the project. Challenges to the project’s environmental impact statement led to the issuance of a stop-clock letter (which suspends the clock for making a determination) in late 2005 in order to collect more information. The stoppage lasted four months. The Maritime Administration and U.S. Coast Guard issued a second stoppage, lasting three months, in July 2006 to collect additional information on environmental issues. Opponents generally warned of environmental harm and increased risk of terrorism—a concern exacerbated by foiled attempts on Christmas Eve 2009 to attack a Northwest Airlines flight by men trained in Yemen, a country of origin for some GDF Suez gas shipments.
Despite the opposition, Neptune LNG has been one of the few LNG success stories of recent years. In October 2005, the U.S. Coast Guard deemed Neptune’s application complete. Governor Mitt Romney approved the project in December 2006. The spring of 2007 brought approval and licensing by the U.S. Maritime Administration. Construction began in July 2008. On May 21, 2010, GDF Suez announced that the project was partially operational, and that it expected its first shipments of LNG in August 2010. That is roughly six months delayed from the initial project delivery date, which given the difficulty faced by most LNG developers in recent years must be considered a massive success.
SOURCES: GDF Suez: http://www.suezenergyna.com/ourcompanies/lngna-neptune.shtml; http://www.suezenergyna.com/press/NeptunePress.shtml;
Gloucester Times: http://www.gloucestertimes.com/local/x2023216134/LNG-port-off-Gloucester-coast-now-open-for-business;
Maritime Administration: http://www.marad.dot.gov/documents/USCG-2005-22611-0465__Neptune_LNG.pdf;
Clean Ocean Action: http://www.cleanoceanaction.org/index.php?id=657
Last Updated: November 23, 2010