Brownsville Debates LNG Project


By The Maritime Executive 08-14-2015 04:19:55

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission recently held a meeting in Brownsville, Texas regarding the Brownsville Shipping Channel’s proposed LNG project. If approved, three LNG terminals would be built and export natural gas to foreign markets.

The three companies vying for the project are NextDecadeLLC, Texas LNG and Annova LNG. All three companies are members of the Brownsville Chamber of Commerce and would invest a combined $10 billion into the project.

The Annova LNG and Texas LNG proposals are for mid-sized natural gas liquefaction and transfer facilities. The NextDecade proposal is larger in scale, with four terminals and 27 million tons of liquefied natural gas per year.

Annova estimates that its project would create 675 on-site jobs over the next for years and would employ 165 workers once the facility is operational. If constructed, the Annova facility would produce six million tons of LNG annually. The Texas LNG proposal would produce four million tons per year.

While the three LNG companies paint rosy pictures of a thriving economy in Brownsville, the proposal does have opponents. Many in the community have concerns regarding environmental damage to the region if the ports are built. A report from the Lower Rio Grande Valley Sierra Club predicts unprecedented environmental damage.

Writes Stefanie Herweck, the report’s author: “LNG facilities emit large amounts of airborne pollutants including nitrogen oxides, which give smog its brown color, and volatile organic compounds, which help create smog and in some cases affect health adversely.”

Herweck also calls LNG a highly hazardous industry due to the potential of leaks, fires and explosions. Herweck also argues that while LNG isn’t volatile, the propane and other gases used in the liquefaction process are.

Some are also worried about the impact LNG will have on marine life. Officials with the LNG companies have said that they have considered these risks and would not have moved forward with their proposals if they hadn’t.