FERC issues draft EIS for Downeast LNG project in Maine

Construction and operation of a liquefied natural gas terminal and associated pipelines in Maine would have some adverse impacts which could be mitigated, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission said in a draft environmental impact statement on May 15.

Construction and operation of a liquefied natural gas terminal and associated pipelines in Maine would have some adverse impacts which could be mitigated, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission said in a draft environmental impact statement on May 15.

"Most of these impacts would be reduced to less-than-significant levels with the implementation of the applicants' proposed mitigation measures and the additional measures we recommend in the draft EIS," FERC's staff said as it issued the draft EIS on May 15.

The project would be a system with a 500 million cubic feet daily sendout capacity and 625 mmcf/d peak capacity, according to its sponsor, Downeast LNG Inc. of Robbinston, Me. The terminal and pipeline are needed to fill a supply/demand gap which is expected to reach 1 billion cubic feet daily by 2015, with moderate to high prices, it said at its website.

Tankers would be unloaded offshore and the LNG pumped onshore to storage and vaporization facilities, Downeast said. The company was founded in 2004 by Dean Girdis, who previously was gas and power director for three years at PFC Energy in Washington, DC, and worked for five years with the World Bank on energy project development and financing.

FERC said in its draft EIS that the project would consist of a terminal on the south side of Mill Cove on Passamaquoddy Bay in Robbinston and a 29.8-mile, 30-inch diameter sendout pipeline to a planned interconnection with Maritimes and Northeast Pipeline LLC's existing pipeline system near Baileyville.

The US Coast Guard, US Army Corps of Engineers, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, National Marine Fisheries Service, US Environmental Protection Agency, and the Maine Department of Environmental Protection contributed to the draft, the federal gas pipeline regulator said.

It noted that the Coast Guard's letter of recommendation said that the Passamaquoddy Bay waterway was suitable for the type and frequency of marine traffic which would be associated with the proposed project if risk mitigation recommendations outlined in the Water Suitability Report are fully implemented.

Sponsors now plan to apply for state permits and hope to receive them later in 2009. They said that commercial discussions began with LNG supplies in 2008, and the project will seek financing later this year after awarding the engineering, procurement, and construction contract. Construction would begin in 2010, with completion by the end of 2012 so the facility could begin operating in 2013, they said.

Comments on the draft EIS will be accepted until July 6, FERC said. Commissioners will consider the staff recommendations in both the draft and final EIS before making a decision, it indicated.

Contact Nick Snow at nicks@pennwell.com

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