By OGJ editors
HOUSTON, Apr. 18 -- The world’s first offshore LNG loading system will be retired, announced operator Excelerate Energy LP last week, citing the “changing market” for LNG imports into the US Gulf Coast.
The Gulf Gateway Energy Bridge Deepwater Port lies about 116 miles off Louisiana and started up in 2005 (OGJ’s LNG Observer, April-June 2005, p. 18). Excelerate Energy said it will continue to import LNG into the US through its Northeast Gateway Deepwater Port off Boston, providing incremental LNG access to the high-demand US Northeast.
Energy Bridge regasification vessels (EBRVs) are specially built LNG carriers equipped with onboard regasification that allows delivery of natural gas directly into downstream markets.
Gulf Gateway, said the announcement, had been effectively delivering natural gas to the Gulf Coast through two separate offshore pipeline systems. In September 2008, however, Hurricane Ike extensively damaged both pipelines.
Although Gulf Gateway was unaffected by the hurricane, neither pipeline has been able to return to its previous level of service, said the company, and provide adequate operational pipeline capacity for Gulf Gateway.
“Gulf Gateway…was instrumental in confirming the viability of floating LNG regasification,” said Rob Bryngelson, Excelerate Energy president and chief executive officer. Excelerate Energy wants to expand operations and deliver “flexible and efficient regasification” around the world, he said, and is “focused on markets with the greatest need.”
He said, “This focus, coupled with the surge in LNG importation capacity in the US Gulf Coast in recent years, has reduced the need for Gulf Gateway and confirmed that its retirement is the most financially prudent course of action for us.”
To take advantage of favorable weather conditions, said the announcement, Excelerate Energy intends to have all components removed from its offshore location as soon as practicable. Currently, the decommissioning plan is being finalized in coordination with the US Maritime Administration and other regulatory agencies to “ensure an efficient and environmentally sound process.”
Gulf Gateway will be removed within 68 days of permit approval with “little environmental impact.”