Philadelphia an Unlikely Hub for LNG Exports

  • Susan Phillips

Liquefied natural gas pipes circulate around Dominion's Cove Point import terminal into holding tanks.

Lindsay Lazarski / WHYY

Liquefied natural gas pipes circulate around Dominion's Cove Point import terminal into holding tanks. A proposal to convert this import terminal into an export terminal is third on a list of 17 projects needing approval by the Department of Energy.

The Port of Philadelphia’s chances of becoming home to a liquefied natural gas export terminal are pretty slim, according to energy executives pitching Marcellus Shale gas to Chilean energy companies. On Wednesday, the energy company executives met with officials from the Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry, the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission, PJM Interconnection, Philadelphia Energy Solutions and Sunoco Logistics at the Philadelphia Navy Yard.  Philadelphia Energy Solutions CEO Phil Rinaldi laid out the prospects of a Philadelphia-based export terminal this way:
“Technically it’s very possible,” said Rinaldi. “Economically, it may be possible. Politically, it would be very difficult.”
Last week the Philadelphia Inquirer reported that brokers trying to sell Philadelphia Gas Works are marketing it as potential liquefied natural gas export terminal. But if that were to happen, the project would cost billions of dollars and be forced to get in line behind about 17 other proposals now awaiting approval by the Department of Energy.
One of those proposals, Dominion’s Cove Point, Maryland import terminal, would likely take precedence. Dominion’s Chesapeake Bay facility would not have to be built from scratch and is connected to a pipeline system that serves the gas fields in upstate Pennsylvania. Robert Powelson, chair of the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission says the D.O.E will likely approve about 8 additional export terminals. Two Gulf Coast export facilities have already gotten the green light.
Before the state’s shale gas boom, PGW floated the idea of a liquefied natural gas import facility in Port Richmond, but that plan garnered intense public opposition.
Rinaldi did say the future could hold possibilities for smaller LNG facilities in Philadelphia, which would serve domestic trucking fleets, but not exports.

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