El Paso Global LNG, a subsidiary of El Paso Corporation announced the development of EP Energy Bridge(TM), a new ship-based liquefied natural gas (LNG) regasification system. Using proven offshore buoy technology to moor the ship and proprietary technology to regasify LNG onboard the ship and discharge it through a subsea pipeline, EP Energy Bridge(TM) enables flexible, environmentally safe, and cost-effective delivery of natural gas directly to coastal regions eliminating the need of a conventional land-based terminal. This delivery system is expected to be operational and in service by 2005.
"EP Energy Bridge(TM) gives El Paso the ability to serve existing baseload and peaking demand markets, as well as reach new markets where pipelines or traditional LNG terminals are cost prohibitive," said Ralph Eads III, president of El Paso Merchant Energy Group. "This delivery method continues our LNG strategy to bring competitively priced natural gas to growing North American markets and other regions worldwide. We are confident this technology will allow us to offer more flexibility to our customers while maintaining dependable service to meet the increased demand for natural gas."
The EP Energy Bridge(TM) ships can regasify and deliver up to 400 million cubic feet of natural gas per day. An EP Energy Bridge(TM) ship connects to pipeline infrastructure through an offshore buoy and turret system that has been used worldwide, including approximately 10 years of service in the harsh weather environment of the North Sea. As the LNG ship arrives at the unloading site, the buoy is pulled into a receiving cone and connected to the ship. The LNG is then regasified aboard the ship and the vaporized LNG is discharged through the buoy into the subsea pipeline system.
For continuous flow of natural gas, a typical EP Energy Bridge(TM) system will have two offloading buoys to ensure uninterrupted delivery. Additionally, the offshore systems will provide a cost-effective solution to serve seasonal or peaking loads, and small to medium-size markets where natural gas delivery has previously been unavailable. El Paso anticipates the initial EP Energy Bridge(TM) sites will be in the Gulf of Mexico and along the U.S. East coast.
This new technology continues El Paso Global LNG
's plan of becoming a leading worldwide LNG merchant and is complementary to existing assets and development plans.
El Paso developed the EP Energy Bridge(TM) design in close cooperation with leading
shipbuilders, offshore technology and transportation companies. Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering Company, a Korean shipbuilder, will construct the initial EP Energy Bridge(TM) vessels, which will be owned and operated by a consortium lead by Exmar. El Paso has entered into long-term agreements to charter three EP Energy Bridge
(TM) ships from the consortium.
Delivery of the first ship is expected in the fourth quarter of 2004 and it will be able to serve growing natural gas markets
worldwide. Advanced Production and Loading AS is the designer and manufacturer of the buoy system that will be used in the EP Energy Bridge(TM) ships.