The Port Ambrose facility to regasify liquefied natural gas and transfer it to a pipeline to the shore had been cleared for deployment in October 2015 by both the US Maritime Administration and the US Coast Guard in waters bordering the states of New Jersey and New York.
The LNG project, proposed by Liberty Natural Gas, required approval from both New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New Jersey Governor James Christie under the federal Deepwater Port Act if it was to start-up.
Port Ambrose would have been able to deliver LNG cargoes to cover peak winter season needs in New York State when demand is high and power cuts can occur.
Cuomo detailed his position on Port Ambrose LNG in a letter sent to the US Maritime Administration, the main regulator of offshore regasification import and export projects.
The deepwater port Floating Storage and Regasification Unit (FSRU) and its infrastructure were to be deployed in the waters of the New York Bight, less than 30 nautical miles from New York Harbor, 16 nautical miles south of Jones Beach and 28 miles east of Sandy Hook in New Jersey.
“This facility would create a dangerous mix of massive LNG tankers and weak fixed infrastructure in close proximity to shipping lanes for the biggest port on the East Coast,” Cuomo claimed.
“Extreme weather, such as Superstorm Sandy, could lead to a catastrophic accident as LNG tankers and cargo ships that anchor offshore to ride out storms could be put in close proximity.
“Despite careful planning and preparation, Superstorm Sandy showed us that we cannot accept such a risk,” he said.
“It is unclear whether Liberty would provide consistent supply to the natural gas market or only provide supply in the limited instances when it can take advantage of high prices,” Cuomo said.
“The proposed Port Ambrose location would interfere with a critical renewable project proposed by the New York Power Authority for an offshore wind project that would create enough renewable energy to power up to 700,000 homes and reduce harmful greenhouse gas emissions. Private developers have also expressed interest in pursuing offshore wind in the same location,” the governor said.
The LNG project developer Liberty Natural Gas is a portfolio company of an equity fund advised by West Face Capital, a Toronto-based investment management firm.
In addition to the Port Ambrose project, West Face Capital and its affiliates are currently developing a deepwater port project at Barrow-in-Furness in northwest England, known as the Port Meridian project.
Both the Port Ambrose and Port Meridian projects have Norwegian FLNG developer and fleet owner Hoegh LNG as the vessel provider.
“My administration carefully reviewed this project from all angles, and we have determined that the security and economic risks far outweigh any potential benefits,” said Cuomo.
“Superstorm Sandy taught us how quickly things can go from bad to worse when major infrastructure fails - and the potential for disaster with this project during extreme weather or amid other security risks is simply unacceptable.
“Port Ambrose would also hinder the local maritime economy in a way that negatively impacts businesses throughout Long Island. This is a common-sense decision, because vetoing this project is in the best interests of New Yorkers,” the governor said.