FERC issues final environmental report on Puerto Rico LNG project

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission on Feb. 20 issued the final environmental impact statement on a liquefied natural gas project that would aid the partial conversion of a big Puerto Rico power plant to natural gas-firing capability.

In April 2013, Aguirre Offshore GasPort LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Excelerate Energy LP, filed an application seeking authorization from the FERC to develop, construct, and operate a liquefied natural gas (LNG) import terminal off the southern coast of Puerto Rico.

The FERC is the lead agency for the preparation of the EIS. The FERC invited agencies to participate in the review as cooperating agencies. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, U.S. Coast Guard, U.S. Department of Transportation, U.S. Department of Energy, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Puerto Rico Permits Management Office, Puerto Rico Environmental Quality Board, Puerto Rico Planning Board, Puerto Rico Department of Natural and Environmental Resources and Puerto Rico Department of Health participated as cooperating agencies.

The project is being developed in cooperation with the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority (PREPA) for the purpose of receiving, storing, and regasifying LNG to be acquired by PREPA; and delivering natural gas to PREPA’s existing Aguirre Power Complex (Aguirre Plant) in Salinas, Puerto Rico.

The project would include the construction and operation of an offshore marine LNG receiving facility (Offshore GasPort) and a 4.0-mile-long subsea pipeline connecting the Offshore GasPort to the Aguirre Plant. A Floating Storage and Regasification Unit (FSRU) would be moored at the offshore berthing platform on a semi-permanent basis. Ships would dock at the offshore berthing platform and deliver LNG to the FSRU.

The LNG receiving facility would be located approximately 3 miles off the southern coast of Puerto Rico, about 1 mile outside of Jobos Bay, near the towns of Salinas and Guayama.

The purpose of the project is to provide LNG storage capacity and sustained deliverability of natural gas directly to the Aguirre Plant, which would facilitate PREPA’s conversion of the plant from fuel oil only to a dual-fuel generation facility, capable of burning diesel and natural gas for the combined cycle units and fuel oil and natural gas for the thermoelectric plant. The project would contribute to the diversification of energy sources in Puerto Rico, allow the Aguirre Plant to meet the requirements of the EPA’s Mercury and Air Toxics Standards, reduce fuel oil barge traffic in Jobos Bay, and contribute to energy price stabilization in the region. Aguirre LLC is proposing to place the project facilities in service in 2016.

The project would have a storage capacity of 197,400 cubic yards and sendout capacity of 500 million standard cubic feet per day (MMscf/d) to the Aguirre Plant.

The project was developed in response to an Expression of Interest and Pre-Qualification process that was conducted by PREPA in December 2010 to identify a qualified company to develop, permit, finance, construct, and operate an LNG import terminal. Excelerate Energy submitted its technical proposal and company qualification to PREPA in January 2011 and was selected by PREPA in February 2011 as the most qualified company to pursue a solution to PREPA’s goals.

The Aguirre Plant is PREPA’s largest power facility with an installed capacity of about 1,492 MW. PREPA developed the Aguirre Plant from 1972 to 1977 to generate electricity using No. 2 oil and No. 6 oil with twelve fuel combustion sources located in three plant areas, including a combined cycle plant, a steam power plant, and a simple cycle block. In response to the new MATS rule, and to the Puerto Rico government’s policy to promote the use of natural gas to lower energy cost and reduce Puerto Rico’s carbon footprint, PREPA is planning to provide the capability to burn natural gas in both the two-unit, 900-MW steam power plant (AG 1 and 2) and the two-unit, 600-MW combined cycle plant (CC 1 and 2). The two-unit steam plant consists of two boilers and two steam generators, and the two-unit combined cycle power plant consists of eight combustion turbines and two steam generators. The schedule for the modifications to the steam power plant would coincide with the completion of the proposed LNG project.

About Barry Cassell 20414 Articles
Barry Cassell is Chief Analyst for GenerationHub covering coal and emission controls issues, projects and policy. He has covered the coal and power generation industry for more than 24 years, beginning in November 2011 at GenerationHub and prior to that as editor of SNL Energy’s Coal Report. He was formerly with Coal Outlook for 15 years as the publication’s editor and contributing writer, and prior to that he was editor of Coal & Synfuels Technology and associate editor of The Energy Report. He has a bachelor’s degree from Central Michigan University.