Friday, August 8, 2008

Liquid Natural Gas Terminal Debate is On in New Jersey♦

TOMS RIVER, N.J. - With energy prices sky high, proposals to place liquefied natural gas terminals off the New Jersey coast are getting a serious look. But environmental and fishing groups say they are the wrong choice for a state so heavily dependent on tourism.

Three projects for storing or transferring liquefied natural gas have been proposed for the ocean off New Jersey, but out of sight of the shoreline:

_ The Atlantic Sea Island Group wants to build a 63-acre artificial island nearly 20 miles off Sandy Hook for a liquefied natural gas port called "Safe Harbor Energy."

_ A group calling itself Liberty Natural Gas wants to build a pipeline tethered to buoys 15 miles off Asbury Park. Ships would connect to the pipeline and empty their gas, which would then be carried under the ocean floor to the mainland.

ExxonMobil has proposed a floating gas terminal called BlueOcean Energy about 20 miles off the coast of Manasquan.

Also, BP had proposed a liquefied natural gas receiving pier on the Delaware River in Logan Township, although a court recently ruled that Delaware could block the plan.

At a public hearing on the proposals before state Senate and Assembly committees Thursday, officials of two of the companies touted their projects as essential to increasing the supply of natural gas in the region and insisted they would be safe.

Mark Schanzer, BlueOcean's president, said his company's proposed facility could deliver about 1.2 billion cubic feet of natural gas per day, enough gas to heat 5 million homes.

"The region needs access to reliable supplies of natural gas," he said. "This facility provides that."

He said BlueOcean would generate billions of dollars worth of economic activity and $150 million in tax revenue and would create 300 jobs.

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