AES Corp. Clears Hurdle For LNG Pipeline
The AES Corporation has cleared another important hurdle in its bid to lay a liquefied natural gas pipeline between The Bahamas and southeastern Florida.
The U.S. Federal Regulatory Commission on Thursday gave the company final approval for its Ocean Express pipeline project, Reuters News Service reported.
Now AES has to secure the go-ahead from the Bahamas Government before it could begin the project.
But that could take some time.
Two months ago, Keod Smith, Ambassador to the Environment and Chairman of the Bahamas Environment Science and Technology Commission (BEST), urged the government to move "very slowly" before making a decision regarding the three proposals for LNG projects before it.
Mr. Smith said that the necessary legislation is not in place to guard against possible environmental impacts.
His comments came after the BEST Commission viewed the environmental impact assessment for the proposed AES project.
That assessment said that laying a liquefied natural gas pipeline from Ocean Cay, near Bimini, to Florida presents the greatest potential for impact to marine resources, as it will cause temporary disturbance to the ocean floor.
But the EIA also said that the $550 million project is not expected to impact critical habitats of any endangered or at risk species.
The report said the development of a LNG gas terminal and desalination plant on Ocean Cay would provide economic and social benefits to Bimini and the Bahamian government as well as providing a much needed additional supply of natural gas to South Florida and potable water and natural gas to Bimini.
The 54-mile pipeline would transport up to 842 million cubic feet of natural gas a day. The pipeline would connect with the Florida Gas Transmission Co. pipeline system in Broward County, Florida.
The Ocean Express pipeline would connect with, and receive natural gas transported by a 40-mile Bahamian-jurisdiction pipeline, which is owned by another AES affiliate, that extends to Ocean Cay.
Ocean Cay, a 90-acre man-made industrial island, would be the site of a liquefied natural gas storage and re-gasification facility that would receive LNG from foreign suppliers.
The AES pipeline would deliver natural gas to markets in Florida and over the interstate pipeline grid to other parts of the country. AES has said it plans to have the pipeline start delivering gas to customers by November 2005.
AES Project Director Aaron Samson has said that The Bahamas is the single best place in the world to bring LNG into southeast Florida and has continuously promised that his company is adhering to the strictest environmental standards.
Two other companies, El Paso and Tractebel North America Inc. also propose to establish liquefied natural gas pipelines between The Bahamas and Florida.
But Trade and Industry Minister Leslie Miller has said that it appears that El Paso is out of the race given that it has been reporting financial troubles.
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