A number of proposed small-scale LNG projects is set to boost the US northeast’s LNG refuelling infrastructure
Natural gas powers about 175,000 vehicles in the US, with LNG the preferred choice for long-haul, heavy-duty trucks. There are about 140 LNG refuelling stations in the US, limiting the refuelling and route choices for LNG-powered trucks. However, several proposed small-scale LNG projects in the US northeast could expand LNG refuelling infrastructure, making LNG as a fuel a more viable option for vehicles.
One of the projects is a new small-scale LNG facility in Philadelphia that would provide LNG for power generation, truck refuelling and industrial use in south-eastern Pennsylvania.
In June, it won a key approval from the Philadelphia city council, which passed legislation that allows the city to enter into certain transactions and contracts regarding the LNG project, including certain leases and licenses, and contracts related to the purchase of natural gas. Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney signed the bill into law on 3 July.
Passyunk Energy Centre will build new US$60M LNG liquefaction facilities on the site of an LNG distribution centre owned by Philadelphia Gas Works in Philadelphia. The facility will produce 450,000 litres of LNG per day for distribution to power generation, truck refuelling and industrial customers.
Passyunk Energy Centre (PEC) is a public-private partnership city-owned utility Philadelphia Gas Works (PGW) and energy infrastructure investment firm Liberty Energy Trust, West Conshohocken, Pennsylvania. Liberty Energy is providing the financing for the construction of the facility, which will be operated by PGW, which will sell LNG production services to PEC, which will market and sell the LNG to regional customers.
The proposed LNG facility has drawn opposition from environmentalists.
At a city council hearing on the legislation in April, activist group 350Philadelphia member Meenal Raval testified: “We remain opposed to this project from a public health perspective — people unable to breathe the air in their neighbourhoods, air fouled by fossil fuel emissions.” Added Ms Raval: “We also remain opposed to this project from a climate perspective — that physics demands that we must not invest in any new fossil fuel projects.”
Connecting Caribbean customers with LNG
Just across the Delaware River from Philadelphia in southern New Jersey, environmentalists are up in arms about a plan that would transport ‘stranded gas’ from the Marcellus Shale as LNG to a marine logistics centre in southern New Jersey for export to the Caribbean.
Under a proposal from Delaware River Partners LLC, a US$94.6M pier would be constructed at the Gibbstown Logistics Centre (GLC) on the Delaware River, near Paulsboro, New Jersey. Located at the former DuPont Repauno industrial site, the pier, known as ‘Dock 2’, would be able to accommodate two ocean-going ships, with overall lengths of 294 m and draughts of 12 m. Dock 2 would be designed for the loading of bulk liquid products directly from railcar or truck onto ocean-going vessels for export and includes infrastructure for transloading operations. Bulk liquid products, including butane, isobutane, propane (collectively liquefied petroleum gas, or LPG), LNG and ethane would be transloaded onto vessels. There will be no production or bulk storage of LNG at the site.
The previously approved GLC marine terminal project consists of Dock 1 and the adjacent landside logistics centre and marine terminal facilities. Construction of Dock 1 was substantially completed in December 2018, and construction of the marine terminal facilities and logistics centre is underway. Dock 1 is a multi-purpose one-ship deep-water berth capable of handling a variety of freight, including automobiles (roll-on/roll-off), non-containerised break bulk cargoes, bulk products, and liquids from either trucks or rail cars.
To accommodate dep-draft LNG carriers at Dock 2, the channel would have to be dredged to 13 m. Some 519 steel piles would have to be driven for the construction of Dock 2, with most of the construction performed using barge-mounted cranes, barge-based pile driving rigs, and waterborne material deliveries.
Delaware River Partners is a subsidiary of Fortress Transportation and Infrastructure Investors LLC, which is managed by an affiliate of the Fortress Investment Group LLC.
New Fortress Energy, LLC is developing the Pennsylvania Liquefier, an LNG production facility in the heart of Marcellus Shale country. In January, New Fortress Energy subsidiary Bradford County Real Estate Partners signed a contract worth US$672M with US-based Black & Veatch for the engineering, procurement, installation and construction of the Marcellus LNG Production facility at Wyalusing, Pennsylvania, according to US Security Exchange Commission filings. Targeted for completion 15 March 2021, the facility would have a nameplate capacity of 2.23 mta of LNG, which would be transported via tanker truck or railcar to the Gibbstown Logistics Centre for export to the Caribbean.
New Fortress Energy has several LNG projects underway in the Caribbean, exporting LNG by ISO container from its small-scale Miami Liquefier facility in Hialeah, Florida and operates two LNG import terminals in Jamaica.
Investment banker and co-owner of the Milwaukee Bucks and Aston Villa FC, Wesley R. Edens, is the chief executive and chairman of New Fortress Energy.
Massachusetts LNG facility
Liberty Energy Trust is also backing a small-scale LNG facility being proposed for Charlton, Massachusetts. With an estimated cost of more than US$100M, the Northeast Energy Centre would use feed gas from the Tennessee Natural Gas Pipeline interstate pipeline. The facility would have liquefaction capacity of 946,000 litres per day, a storage capacity of 7.5M litres of LNG, and an LNG truck-loading system with four LNG tanker truck bays.
Utility National Grid, which controls Bay State Gas Company and Boston Gas Company, would be one of the customers of the LNG facility. LNG produced locally would reduce the reliance on imported LNG for New England gas utility customers during the winter season.
LNG is also expected to be transported via tanker truck to Providence, Rhode Island.
National Grid has also received approval from the US Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (US FERC) to provide a small-scale LNG facility at its existing storage facility at Fields Point in Providence. The US$180M expansion will allow National Grid to liquefy and store domestic-sourced natural gas as LNG. The LNG will be regasified and used to meet peak shaving demand during the winter months, when utility consumer demand can outstrip natural gas supply.
National Grid says LNG currently provides supply for about nine days/year, or about 4% of the winter season supply. Current LNG supplies are primarily filled by imported LNG. Onsite LNG storage is handled by a single storage tank, with a capacity of 95M litres.