As many people are aware, multiple liquefied natural gas projects are vying for approval to construct and operate liquefication and exporting facilities at the Port of Brownsville.
Annova LNG, Next Decade/RioGrande LNG and Texas LNG are the three projects currently engaged in the regulatory review process.
This process will entail multiple reviews by federal agencies including the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, which is responsible for reviewing and approving all LNG projects.
LNG is the liquid form of the natural gas that people use in their homes for cooking and heating, and has been safely handled for many years. In the early development of LNG, the industry was not without incidents, but over the last 40 years it has maintained an enviable safety record.
Overall, the LNG industry has an excellent safety record compared to refineries and other petrochemical plants. The transportation of LNG by vessel also has an impeccable safety record. There have been thousands of LNG carrier voyages without major accidents or safety problems either in port or on the high seas.
In 2012 there were 25 LNG export terminals, 91 import terminals, and 360 LNG ships worldwide. The United States has the largest number of LNG facilities in the world with 121 active facilities spread across the country.
The safe and environmentally sound operation of these facilities, both ships and terminals, and the protection of the facilities from terrorist activities or other forms of accident or injury are the primary concern and responsibility shared by the operators as well as the federal, state and local entities.
I derived the information from a report prepared by the Center for Energy Economics at the University of Texas titled “Introduction to LNG: An overview on liquefied natural gas (LNG), its properties, the LNG industry, and safety consideration.”
The Port of Brownsville is a large land-owning port with approximately 40,000 acres of land. We are strategically located as the only deepwater seaport on the U.S.-Mexico border.
The port is also an industrial port whose efforts are geared toward the attraction of industry and maritime commerce while providing economic growth and job creation in the region. These LNG facilities are industrial sites and, as such, are subject to rules, regulations and environmental standards imposed by the various jurisdictions. They will also generate hundreds of above-living-wage jobs and will provide an economic infusion of millions of dollars in revenues into the area.
Given all of the above-reference factors, the port is in support of the LNG projects and the development of these facilities at the port. We do expect that the FREC process will weigh the facts associated with these projects and not act on false or perceived information.
While we do support these projects, we expect and demand that each LNG project fully demonstrate its ability to comply wholly with all the requirements necessary to secure a permit to construct and safely operate an LNG facility at the port.
We also believe the regulatory requirements associated with the granting of a permit will ensure that each LNG project demonstrates its ability to address the safe construction and operation of an LNG liquefaction and export facility, meet all of the requirements necessary to protect the community and the workers, meet all of the requirements to address all air and water quality standards, meet all of the requirements for the safe loading and navigation of LNG vessels, balance the needs of the LNG projects with the environmental impacts associated with their development, and adhere to the highest standards required to satisfy the permitting process for the construction and operation of an LNG facility at the Port of Brownsville.
Lastly, we trust that the regulatory process will take into account the long-term sustainability of the Port of Brownsville and its current users and stakeholders and balance the navigation needs of the LNG projects with those of the port.
Our position on the LNG projects remains firm and clear. We are supportive of these projects provided that they adhere to all of the regulatory requirements for the safe construction and operation of these facilities and it they cannot, they should not granted a permit. We are working with them to assist them in achieving a successful outcome, and would encourage others to do the same.