Natural gas exports eyed through Calvert County
...thanks in large part to booming production of natural gas from shale deposits in neighboring states, the East Coast's largest LNG terminal could be bustling again in several years — exporting the heating and industrial fuel to other countries, instead of importing it.
We used to fish in among the pilings at the gas dock. After 2001 and the reopening of the shipping facility, a large and well enforced exclusion zone was set up, and now fishing is excluded to about a quarter of a mile from the structure.
Dominion, based in Richmond, Va., has won approval from the Department of Energy to use Cove Point for exporting liquefied natural gas to about 20 nations with which the United States has free-trade agreements. The company is now seeking federal permission to allow shipments to virtually any foreign country, except those barred because of trade embargoes. The company is awaiting that green light before deciding whether to proceed with plans to convert the terminal to an export facility, said spokesman Dan Donovan. Other federal, state and local approvals also would be needed for construction of a gas liquefaction plant at the 1,100-acre site and for what the spokesman said would be relatively minor modifications to the offshore pier. If it moves forward, the terminal's work force could nearly double, Dominion said.
It has been interesting to watch the fate of the old Cove Point Gas Dock. When I arrived in Maryland in 1985, they were relatively new, but had never been used. They stayed in that state until 2003 when Dominion started receiving gas. For a few years, ships arrived regularly, bringing gas in to ship up the shore to Baltimore and further on. In the last couple of years, the shipments have dropped off to nearly nothing as domestic gas production has increased and demand decreased.
The O'Malley administration, which has imposed a de facto moratorium on shale-gas drilling in Western Maryland until it finishes studying the environmental impacts, has taken no position on Dominion's bid to handle gas exports at Cove Point. Abigail Hopper, the governor's energy adviser, said in an email it would be premature to comment.
But environmental activists can be expected to oppose it, given their objections to "fracking," the hydraulic fracturing technique used to extract shale gas.
I'm glad to see this being considered. I hope the environmental assholes don't succeed in shutting it down.
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