Suez Energy North America announced
MarAd has agreed to issue a deep water port license
for its Neptune offshore liquefied natural gas terminal planned for Massachusetts Bay.
The license will be issued after the Neptune project, planned in federal waters about 7 miles south-southeast of Gloucester, receives environmental permits
from the Army Corps of Engineers as well as water and air discharge permits from the Environmental Protection Agency.
The proposed project must also get two key state environmental permits. That could be done by the middle of this year, a spokeswoman for Suez Energy, which also is the parent company of an onshore LNG terminal in Everett.
The federal approval comes a month after former Gov. Mitt Romney endorsed plans to build two offshore gas terminals, including the Neptune project, to help meet a growing regional demand for energy in New England. The other project, Northeast Gateway
, is proposed by Excelerate Energy LLC, about 13 miles offshore in the same area.
Some fishing industry leaders have opposed the terminals, saying construction of the pipeline would disturb fish habitats and force more fishing ground closures in areas invaluable to Gloucester's fishermen.
The companies say they will minimize risks to the public by eliminating the need to ferry the potentially hazardous gas through Boston Harbor, and eliminating the need for onshore storage tankers since the gas will be pumped out of the seagoing tankers and into the grid.