Carbon fuels giant Exxon Corp. is proposing the creation of a docking station for the transfer of liquefied natural gas 20 miles off the Monmouth County coast, according to various reports today.


From today’s Star-Ledger:

The project, involving a floating natural gas terminal more than 1,100 feet long and 100 feet high, would be anchored to the ocean floor in about 150 feet of water. It would not be visible from shore and would be located away from shipping and fishing lanes as well as recreational areas, the giant energy company said.

The facility, dubbed BlueOcean Energy, would be connected to land via an underwater pipeline able to deliver about 1.2 billion cubic feet of natural gas daily, enough to meet the needs of 5 million residential customers.

The announcement is the fourth in a series of proposals for liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminals in and around New Jersey, including one to be built on an artificial island 19 miles east of Sandy Hook and another along the Delaware River in South Jersey. Exxon said the terminal will be built off the coast of Monmouth County, but did not pinpoint a location….

Exxon, the nation’s largest oil and gas company, brings enormous resources to bear on its proposal. Bill Davis, vice president of LNG Market Development, a subsidiary of Exxon, said part of the decision in selecting the New Jersey location was based on where the gas was needed the most and where a terminal could be built in an environmentally sound manner.

Many conservationists are likely to oppose the plan, saying it is part of a general push by the industry to move industrial facilities into ocean waters, where they encounter less resistance than in heavily populated areas

“It’s really the beginning of the age of ocean sprawl,” said Tim Dillingham, executive director of the American Littoral Society, citing other proposals to build offshore LNG terminals in Long Island Sound and off Massachusetts. “The bottom line is the public has fought long and hard to clean up the ocean from sewage sludge and industrial waste. We didn’t do that to turn over a cleaned-up ocean for industry to profit from.”

Rep. Frank Pallone, a Democratic congressman who represents parts of the Jersey Shore, also opposes the project, saying the terminal would be a tremendous environmental burden and “an accident waiting to happen.” …

Exxon faces a rigorous review process, requiring approval from both the U.S. Maritime Administration and Coast Guard, as well as New Jersey environmental authorities regarding the placement of an underwater pipeline. While no route has been finalized, Davis said the company’s initial focus is to build 40 miles of undersea pipeline ending in Raritan Bay.

The floating terminal, the equivalent of four football fields, is designed to receive liquefied gas from double-hulled LNG tankers about twice a week. The fuel would be stored temporarily in tanks at the terminal, then warmed to convert it back to a gas for delivery via pipeline to facilities on land.

Today’s New York Times has this perspective:

ExxonÂ’s project is the latest of several dozen gas terminals that have been proposed in recent years in the United States. Energy specialists say more natural gas supplies will be needed to meet the growth in consumption and to make up for an expected drop in imports from Canada.

In many cases, energy companies have faced stiff opposition in finding sites for large new terminals. This has become one of the thorniest energy issues, especially since the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, raised security concerns about cargo ships carrying liquefied gas near big cities.

Still, companies are slowly moving forward with their plans. Since 2002, federal and state authorities have approved 18 new liquefied gas terminals around the country, including 4 offshore, though most analysts do not expect all of them to be built.

While most of the projects are planned along the Gulf Coast, the northeastern corner of the country is attracting attention because of its reliance on natural gas and its large populations. Two terminals to be built off Massachusetts gained approval last year.

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