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Friday, July 25, 2014
What's Port Ambrose really all about?
(Page 3 of 4)
Courtesy Höegh LNG
A rendering of Port Meridian, a liquid natural gas terminal that a West Face Capital Inc. subsidiary plans to build in the East Irish Sea. Another West Face subsidiary, Liberty Natural Gas, LLC, is seeking approval to build a similar LNG terminal off the South Shore named Port Ambrose. Environmental groups fear that Port Ambrose could be used for LNG exports to Port Meridian.

Liberty’s website states that Port Ambrose could not be used for exports, but Höegh’s website highlights the Norwegian company’s work to develop ships capable of converting natural gas into LNG onboard. Höegh claims that no other company “has the same competences and capacity,” and mentions that Höegh recently finished engineering work for a FLNG, or floating LNG production, off the coast of Israel and for an undisclosed project in Asia.

Zipf and Dixon contended that West Face owning Port Ambrose and Port Meridian on both sides of the Atlantic, and working in partnership with Höegh, the company that would build the ships docking at each port, points to a business scheme of exporting LNG from the United States, where natural gas production is on the rise, to the United Kingdom, where it’s falling.

The outlook for imports and exports

The U.S. Energy Information Administration recently projected that U.S. natural gas production would increase 44 percent by 2040 and that the United States would become a net exporter of natural gas by 2020. The EIA attributed almost all of the increase to hydrofracking, a controversial form of natural gas drilling that involves injecting water and chemicals deep underground to fracture bedrock and allow gas bubbles to escape.

When the U.S. Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, which is part of the U.S. Department of Energy, revoked Jordan Cove’s LNG import license in April 2012, it expressed its own doubt about the economic viability of LNG imports.

While FERC, which regulates onshore LNG facilities, required Jordan Cove to reapply for a permit to become an export facility and again undergo a public review process, the Maritime Administration regulates Port Ambrose. Dixon expressed concern that once Port Ambrose was licensed as an import facility, it could switch to exports without undergoing further public review.

Switching to exports “would be legally achievable through a petition or an amendment to their license once their license is granted,” Dixon said during the conference call.

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