Suez Energy North America's subsidiary, Neptune LNG LLC
, announced that the U.S. Maritime Administration
(MarAd) has decided to issue a deepwater port license to the company to build, own, and operate the Neptune offshore LNG delivery system in Massachusetts Bay. Neptune is the first offshore LNG project on the United States' East Coast to reach this milestone.
The Maritime Administration is responsible for issuing a deepwater port license under the Deepwater Port Act of 1974 ("Act"). The action by the Maritime Administration to approve a license for Neptune, which is included in its Record of Decision for the Project, follows SUEZ's December 13, 2006, commitment to promote employment opportunities for U.S. mariners on both its existing fleet of LNG carriers serving the United States and on the vessels to be used for the Neptune project, and the milestone approval of the Neptune project by the Governor of Massachusetts on December 19, 2006.
Neptune LNG anticipates having a fully operational project, including construction of a pipeline connection to the existing sub-sea pipeline, HubLine(SM), specially designed ships, and the LNG supply to serve customers in Massachusetts and the rest of New England in 2009.
Demand for natural gas from power generators and residential consumers in New England is expected to increase by 1 to 2% per year over the next two decades, with Massachusetts alone
accounting for half of the region's natural gas consumption. At this rate of growth, the region could face a shortage of natural gas supply approaching 500 million cubic feet per day in the year 2010.
The Neptune project is being developed to provide between 400 and 750 million cubic feet of natural gas per day -- enough to serve 1.5 million to 3 million homes daily. By increasing supply to the region, the Neptune project will help ensure that homes in Massachusetts and the other New England states have heat when the weather is cold and electricity year round.