(March 16, 2006) -- A U.S. subsidiary of an Australia-based worldwide energy firm has proposed delivering natural gas to CA -- without constructing an onshore Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) terminal or offshore platform -- using an undersea pipeline from 20+ miles offshore coast to connect to existing pipelines in an industrial area near LAX.
In a written release (details below), Woodside Natural Gas, Inc., a subsidiary of Woodside Petroleum, Ltd., proposes what it calls "OceanWay" -- a gas delivery system it describes as a "state of the art" process that "will not need the construction of an LNG terminal onshore, or an offshore platform.
|The firm proposes to deliver gas from ships through an undersea pipeline to existing gas pipeline facilities in an industrial area near LAX "with little or no disruption to residential neighborhoods." LNG would be brought by ship to a point 20+ miles offshore, converted to regular natural gas onboard ship, connected to an underwater buoy, facilitating a connection to OceanWay’s undersea pipeline and then connected to the So Cal Gas Company system."
To enlarge map and view explanatory legend in pdf form, click here or click map (824 kB). Image source: Woodside Natural Gas, Inc.
Jane Cutler, president of Woodside Natural Gas, says in the release, "Providing a safe, reliable and affordable natural gas supply to Southern California is the number one
goal of the OceanWay proposal," adding "Woodside has the experience, expertise and gas reserves required to succeed in this vital endeavor and is committed to working with regulators, policy makers and local communities to achieve this goal."
Ms. Cutler added in the release that one of the advantages to Woodside's proposal "is delivering natural gas in an environmentally sensitive manner. The technologically advanced ships we use are specifically engineered for the delivery of LNG and they eliminate the need for an onshore terminal or an offshore platform."
Ms Cutler said ocean views would not be affected because the proposal had no surface terminal.
"When a ship is delivering natural gas it will be over 20 miles offshore, over five miles beyond commercial shipping lanes and barely visible even on the clearest of days," Ms. Cutler said. "The rest of the time, only a small marker will be on the surface of the water."
Under Woodside's proposal, the undersea pipeline would come onshore underground in an industrial area next to LAX (near the same industrial strip as the L.A. Department of Public Works' Hyperion sewage treatment facility, the Scattergood power plant and the Chevron oil refinery). "The onshore receiving facilities for OceanWay will be minimal," Woodside says.
Ms. Cutler said Woodside had three critical criteria in mind when choosing a site for the OceanWay proposal. "These were to minimize environmental disturbance, to maximize the distance from residential areas, and to ensure the site is a sufficient distance from shipping lanes and marine preserves. With our buoy placed so far offshore and no terminal, our pipeline completely undersea and underground, and our landfall point within the LAX industrial area, we believe our proposal meets those requirements."
Woodside's proposal comes as Mitsubishi-ConocoPhillips subsidiary "Sound Energy Solutions" (SES) presses forward with a proposal to deliver LNG via large ships (arriving roughly twice a week) at an 80+ million gallon facility the firm proposes to build in the Port of LB (Pier T area, roughly two miles from downtown LB). Much of LNG would be regassified and distributed via pipelines...but a portion could be used in its liquefied compact form (1/600 the size) to as vehicle fuel for specially equipped Port-related equipment, trains and transit buses, etc. that would create less pollution than current diesel equipment.
"We've always said one of the biggest advantages of an onshore project is that is has the ability to provide the vehicle fuel component and clean the air," said SES spokesman Jeff Adler.
The Woodside proposal would not provide the cleaner vehicle fuel [unless the arriving gas were transported (at some cost) and converted to liquefied supercooled form elsewhere, usually in remote sites such as one in Arizona).
Two other offshore CA LNG proposals (by other firms) are currently pending in the Ventura/Oxnard area. The SES LB (PoLB) site is the only CA onshore LNG proposal currently pending.
A draft "Environmental Impact Statement/Report" (DEIR) on the SES LB proposal, prepared by staff of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission and Port of LB justifies the Port of LB location...but the FERC/PoLB DEIR has been called deficient in comments submitted by the CA Energy Commission, the CA Coastal Commission, the CA State Lands Commission, the CA Public Utilities Commission, LB Citizens for Utility Reform...and the City of LB (citing issues raised by LB's first responders, LBPD and LBFD). The CA Public Utilities Commission's comments called the PoLB site "one of the worst possible sites imaginable."
LB's three major Mayoral candidates -- Frank Colonna, Bob Foster and Doug Drummond -- have said they oppose siting an LNG facility in the Port of LB. Supporters of the proposal include retired LB Mayor Eunice Sato and a number of southland trade unions (whose members would receive construction work in building the plant). Councilmembers Lowenthal, Colonna, Gabelich are opposed (with former Councilman Baker); other Council incumbents have given varying explanations for not taking an unambiguous position pro or con, although Councilwoman Reyes Uranga has publicly cited reduced air pollution as one of the benefits of the LB LNG site.
In 2003, LB Harbor Commissioners agreed (without conducting their own independent risk or city fiscal impact analysis) to help facilitate approval of the SES facility [and arguably steered the approval process toward federal preemption of CA and LB City Council decisionmaking on safety and siting matters.]
LB's Mayor appointed, Council approved Harbor Commissioners retain the ultimate power as landlord (the City Attorney says) to decide whether to grant a lease of Port property for the LNG project. Under LB's 1980's-era City Charter, LB Harbor Commissioners are non-elected and non-recallable.
In August 2005, Councilmembers voted to urge Harbor Commissioners to make safety the overriding factor in their decision. Also in August 2005, the Council voted 5-4 (substitute motion by Kell, supported by O'Donnell, Richardson, Reyes Uranga & Lerch) not to take a position on encouraging remote siting