US LNG projects are facing stiffer opposition in the Rio Grande Valley as a state permit decision for the Texas LNG export project, one of three being developed near the Port of Brownsville, will have to wait at least another five months to progress.
Commissioners with the Texas Commission of Environmental Quality sent Texas LNG’s state permit application to the State Office of Administrative Hearings as a contested case based on a request from the City of Port Isabel.
Texas LNG is seeking permission from state and federal regulators to build a liquefaction plant In Cameron County along the Brownsville Ship Channel with initial capacity to export 4 million tonnes per annum.
The case is being followed closely by the “Houston Chronical” newspaper, which noted in a report that the project now faces tough opposition from “a coalition of neighboring communities, fishermen, shrimpers, environmentalists and Native Americans.”
The commissioners ruled that while Texas LNG is located outside Port Isabel's city limits, it falls within its extra territorial jurisdiction as it is part of the Brownsville metropolitan area.
Texas LNG Chief Operating Officer Langtry Meyer said the Houston-based company remains confident that it will receive a state environment permit.
“Texas LNG is committed to operating our project in an environmentally responsible manner, including using electric motors to minimize air emissions," said Meyer.
“By delivering clean, safe, low-cost Texas natural gas energy to our customers around the world, Texas LNG can contribute to a cleaner global environment.” he added.
The Texas LNG project is one of three being developed around Brownsville along with the Rio Grande LNG project of NextDecade Corp. and the Annova LNG venture, backed by Chicago-based utility company Exelon.
Texas LNG’s scope includes the building of two liquefaction Trains and support facilities as well as two LNG storage tanks, each of around 210,000 cubic metres capacity.
The LNG carrier berthing dock will be capable of receiving vessels with capacities of between 130,000 cubic metres and 180,000 cubic metres.
Meyer has said he was looking forward to allowing construction to begin and LNG production to commence by 2024.
“This project will bring jobs and investment to Cameron County and deliver clean, safe, abundant Texas natural gas energy to the world,” Meyer added in an earlier statement.
A final investment decision for Texas LNG is scheduled to be taken in the months ahead and is contingent on factors such as completing the required commercial agreements and obtaining financing.
Samsung Engineering of South Korea will provide all technical and engineering services for the project and is expected to take a minority stake.
The newspaper report noted that although multiple parties, communities and groups had requested “affected persons status” for Texas LNG's state permit application, Port Isabel was the only party in the state to receive it due to the project's location along State Highway 48.
The Texas environmental commissioners ordered that the contested case hearing should take place within the next 150 days in the state capital Austin to address health and safety issues and impacts on plants and wildlife.
Port Isabel City Manager Jared Hockema told the “Houston Chronicle” that city officials are preparing for the hearing and plan to travel to Austin to testify against the project.
“We are gratified that the Commission recognized the clear impact that the proposed project will have on Port Isabel,” added Hockema.
“The city will continue to fight to protect our environment, our economy and our way of life from being destroyed by these LNG facilities,” the paper cited him as saying.