From Reuters/LSE

Feb 15 (Reuters) – Methane Spirit, a liquefied natural gas tanker, said Thursday it would arrive at Dominion Energy Inc’s Cove Point LNG export facility in Maryland around March 31, according to Reuters shipping data.

If correct, that could be the first vessel to pick up a cargo from the LNG facility, which Virginia-based Dominion has said it expects to enter service in March. Dominion has spent $4 billion to add export facilities to Cove Point, long an LNG import terminal on the Chesapeake Bay.

The Methane Spirit is currently off the coast of Japan where it was expected to drop off a cargo from Australia, according to the shipping data.

Once it enters service, Cove Point will be the second big LNG export terminal in the lower 48 U.S. states after Cheniere Energy Inc’s Sabine Pass terminal in Louisiana, which exported its first cargo in February 2016. Cove Point is designed to liquefy about 0.75 billion cubic feet per day (bcfd) of gas. One bcfd can power about 5 million homes.

In December, Dominion said Royal Dutch Shell Plc would take the initial LNG cargoes from Cove Point.

Dominion sold the project’s capacity for 20 years to a subsidiary of GAIL (India) Ltd and to ST Cove Point, a joint venture of units of Japanese trading company Sumitomo Corp and Tokyo Gas Co Ltd.

Some of the LNG going to ST Cove Point will go to Tokyo Gas and some will go to Kansai Electric Power Co Inc, according to Sumitomo’s Pacific Summit Energy (PSE) unit

Cove Point will provide takeaway for Cabot Oil & Gas

PSE agreed in 2013 to buy 0.35 bcfd of gas from Cabot Oil & Gas Corp.’s production in the Marcellus shale in Pennsylvania and West Virginia for 20 years once Cove Point enters service.

From the Calvert Recorder

Maryland Approves Dominion’s Request to Amend Certificate

The Maryland Public Service Commission approved Dominion Cove Point LNG’s request to modify its Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity last week, despite the controversy generated by some local opposition last year.

Issued by the commission in 2014, the certificate authorized Dominion to construct a 130-megawatt generating station to serve its liquefied natural gas export facility, which began producing LNG on Jan. 31.

In the Feb. 6 order report, the commission concluded that amending the certificate “is in the public interest and would not adversely impact public health or cause any violation of federal or state environmental laws and standards.”

“We are still reviewing it in detail,” Karl Neddenien, Dominion’s media and community relations manager at Cove Point, said Wednesday. “When they issue the order, we can choose to accept it or not accept it.”

Neddenien said the review is “a matter of process” and he doesn’t have a timeline as to when it would be completed.

Donny Williams from We Are Cove Point called the commission’s decision “unfortunate.” Williams is an organizer for the Calvert grassroots organization formed in protest to Dominion’s expansion project in Lusby.

“You always hold out hope that the regulators are there to protect public health and well-being,” Williams said Tuesday. But “it’s clear the whole time the Public Service Commission isn’t interested” in that and instead chose to “side with businesses” and “prioritize corporate profit over public health.”

While some speakers expressed their support for Dominion’s application during two public hearings in Lusby last fall, many more spoke out against the company’s request out of concerns for negative public health impacts.

The main issue at debate concerns the volatile organic compounds, an ozone precursor, emitted from piping and equipment components.

In August, Dominion asked the commission to remove a numerical limit on VOC emissions because they it is “infeasible” to accurately calculate fugitive emissions from those components. This modification “will not change in any way how the project is constructed or operated, or how leaks are identified and repaired,” the company said.

The number of piping and equipment components was raised more than tenfold from 15,000 to 162,000 after the company updated its calculations to include small diameter components like instrument valves, tubing connectors and access plugs on air-cooled heat exchangers.

The VOC potential to emit is what state agencies called a “highly conservative” estimate that potentially could be higher than actual emission from component leaks. It is calculated by Dominion to be around 20 tons per year to reflect the updated number of the components. That marks an almost 18-ton increase of potential emissions, as the previous limit was set at 2.53 tons per year.

In its request, Dominion asked the commission to exclude component emissions from the project-wide VOC cap of 33 tons on a 12-month rolling basis.

In last week’s order, the commission removed the numeric limit of VOC emissions from component leaks. But instead of deducting component emissions from the project-wide limit, as Dominion requested, the commission added the 17.6 tons of potential VOC emissions to the current cap of 33 tons. That makes the updated cap 51 tons.

“It’s a ton of pollution coming into the air,” Williams said, clarifying “a ton” in a metaphorical sense, but “18 tons” in reality.

In his view, the facts and numbers are clear.

“The whole idea on their end to come out and say there’s no public harm, that’s just not true,” he said. “Any emission into the air causes harm. … It’s common sense.”

The decision, the commission said, is based on recommendations from two state agencies, as it traditionally relies on them for their technical expertise and independent analysis.

The two agencies mentioned are the Maryland Department of Natural Resources Power Plant Research Program and the Maryland Department of the Environment Air and Radiation Administration.

On the feasibility of calculating VOC emissions, state agencies agreed with Dominion. They said fugitive VOC emissions from the components “easily and immediately dissipate into the ambient air, and there is no available technology that can directly and accurately quantify actual fugitive emissions from these components,” according to the order.

In cases when a numerical limitation is judged to be technically infeasible, allowing the use of a leak detection and repair monitoring program would satisfy the lowest achievable emissions rate required by the certificate, according to the commission.

Without the numeric limit, Dominion is ordered to comply with a work practice emission limitation program to control piping and equipment component VOC emissions.

The last part of the order granted Dominion’s request to use three existing Frame 3 and one Solar Titan turbines to supply backup power when the existing two Frame 5 turbines could not operate due to an abnormal or emergency event.

The Frame 3 and Solar Titan turbines have higher hourly emission rates than Frame 5 turbines, and using them could lead to short-term increases in nitrogen oxide emissions at certain times, according to the commission’s report.

But since the limit for nitrogen oxide emissions stays the same at 280 tons per year, the commission said it agreed with state agencies that allowing Dominion the “operational flexibility” to run those turbines for emergency purposes “will not result in any change in their operation or any increase in their already allowable emissions.”

For transparency purposes, the commission directed Dominion to file monthly, quarterly and annual emission monitory reports to state agencies and make them publicly available.

“Dominion has a long track record of doing the opposite [of being transparent],” Williams said, noting he’s suspicious of the company’s willingness to self-monitor its leaks and emissions.

Although the commission’s decision was disappointing, Williams said he believed the turnout of people who voiced their opposition to Dominion’s request last fall made an impact.

“Dominion asked for an expedited decision by Nov. 15. It’s February now. What delayed that? I think it’s only because of the public interest we created,” he said.

For more than eight months, We Are Cove Point has led a weekly rally outside of the governor’s residence in Annapolis, demanding Gov. Larry Hogan (R) order a safety study on Dominion’s Cove Point facility.

In response to the commission’s decision, the organization plans to hold a “parade of poisons” Feb. 22 in addition to its weekly safety study rally. Supporters are asked to wear black if they can. Organizers will have signs and black balloons with the names of the emitted pollutants available, according to a group email sent to subscribers Tuesday.



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