FAQS

Project Overview

a. Why are you locating this project at the Aguirre plant?

The Aguirre Power Plant is the largest power producing facility owned by PREPA and has one of the highest fuel costs of all PREPA facilities. By achieving economies of scale, the Aguirre Plant can lower fuel cost and help reduce the cost of power sooner for Puerto Rico. In terms of the environment, the potential for reducing air emissions at this large facility and reducing the number of fuel barges transiting the Jobos Bay Reserve provides invaluable protection to the biological diversity of this area.

b. What does the proposed project consist of?

The Aguirre Offshore GasPort will consist of an Excelerate Energy floating storage regasification unit (FSRU), a fixed jetty and a subsea pipeline to deliver gas to the Aguirre Plant.

c. How is an offshore terminal different from a land terminal?

A floating LNG terminal has the same capabilities as a land-based terminal. A typical floating terminal consists of an FSRU, minimal infrastructure to moor the vessel, and a subsea pipeline to deliver gas onshore. A floating LNG terminal has the onboard capability of transporting, storing and converting LNG back into natural gas, a process known as “regasification.” In addition to a significantly shorter project-delivery schedule, the capital costs of an Excelerate Energy floating regasification terminal is typically only 10% of the cost of a land-based terminal of equivalent size.

d. Who will build, own and operate the facility?

Excelerate Energy will build and operate the facility and provide regasification services to PREPA under a long-term agreement. PREPA will own the terminal.

e. How often will LNG ships call on the facility?

It is anticipated that LNG supply will be delivered by conventional carriers into the FSRU once every two to three weeks – although that could change in the future.

f. Have you determined the length and location of the pipeline that would be required to connect the project to Power Plant?

The proposed subsea interconnecting pipeline would extend approximately 4.0 miles (6.5 kilometers) from the offshore berthing platform, northward through the Boca del Infierno pass and across the basin of Jobos Bay to the Aguirre Power Complex property where it would interconnect with existing Aguirre Power Complex piping. The pipeline would consist of 18-inch (46 centimeters) outside diameter steel pipe with a maximum allowable operating pressure of 1,450 pounds per square inch (9,997 kilopascals). The pipeline exterior would be coated with concrete, for a total outside diameter of approximately 21 inches (53 centimeters).  Aguirre will employ Horizontal Directional Drilling (HDD), to install the portion of the subsea pipeline located in the Boca del Infierno pass. Aguirre will install the subsea pipeline outside the HDD in two stages. The first stage would consist of laying the pipe on the natural sea bottom. The second stage would involve lowering procedures designed to meet burial requirements established under the U.S. Department of Transportation’s (DOT) Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) regulations.

The pipeline route was selected according to the following criteria:
  • Avoid mangrove barrier islands;
  • Minimize proximity to known sensitive bottom habitats;
  • Minimize bends, or points of inflection (PI), to facilitate offshore installation methods with the least bottom impacts;
  • Avoid crossing of existing barge channel in Jobos Bay; Avoid crossing of existing Aguirre Plant cooling water outfall pipe;
  • Direct landfall within the Aguirre Plant to avoid private properties; and
  • Shortest reasonable route between the Offshore GasPort and Aguirre Plant
g. What economic impact would result from the proposed LNG facility?

The Aguirre Power Plant is the largest power-producing facility owned by PREPA, and it also has one of the highest fuel costs of all PREPA facilities. By developing this project, the Aguirre Plant can achieve fuel cost savings and further the government’s goal of reducing the cost of power for Puerto Rico. 

Based solely on a comparison of the cost of energy, natural gas prices in the United States remain relatively stable over a 25-year period compared with imported crude oil prices which are forecast to increase steadily over the same 25-year span. While no one can accurately predict the market long-term, recent projections of increased natural gas reserves, based on the growth of shale gas development in the United States, suggest a relatively stable price in relation to other fuel sources. Knowledgeable sources are predicting the potential export of these natural gas volumes due to their competitive prices.

h. Why was Excelerate Energy selected?

With nearly a decade of integrated technical, business development, project execution, and operational experience, Excelerate Energy is unrivaled in its ability to respond quickly to its partners’ needs. The company is recognized as the industry leader and has delivered more floating regasification solutions – on time and on budget – than any other provider.

In December 2010, Excelerate Energy responded to a public Expression of Interest (EOI) and Pre-Qualification (PQ) process designed to identify companies that could develop, construct, own and operate an offshore facility to deliver natural gas specifically to the Aguirre Power Plant. Upon completion of this qualifying process, Excelerate Energy was selected as best qualified to conduct the technical study that would confirm the viability of an offshore terminal to bring natural gas directly to the Aguirre Power Plant.

i. Where are other facilities located that are similar to the Aguirre Offshore GasPort Project?

Excelerate Energy has developed floating LNG solutions in the Northeast Atlantic United States, Gulf of Mexico, United Kingdom, Argentina and Kuwait.

 

About LNG

a. What is LNG?

LNG is natural gas in its liquid form, which is the most efficient way to transport and store natural gas. Natural gas is converted to LNG by cooling it to -260° F. At this point, it becomes a liquid which reduces its volume by a factor of more than 600. In this stable liquid state, LNG can be safely transported to the many receiving terminals located around the world. Once it arrives at one of these offshore or on-shore storage facilities, the LNG can be stored on-site. Later, it can be re-gasified to be used by the end-user customer as fuel or to directly enter the nation’s pipeline system.

b. How is LNG regasified? Is this conversion safe?

The liquefied natural gas is returned to its initial gaseous state by warming the liquid to a temperature above -260°F. A GasPort incorporates a jetty-mounted, articulated, high-pressure gas-offloading arm and uses an FSRU to convert LNG back into natural gas to send to market. Excelerate Energy’s purpose-built FSRUs are moored at a GasPort and can quickly and safely discharge regasified LNG with a great degree of flexibility. These FSRUs can deliver regasified LNG at pipeline pressure at flow rates ranging from 50 million standard cubic feet per day (MMscf/d) to 800 MMscf/d, providing quick and convenient access to incremental gas supplies.

c. What are the advantages of LNG?

LNG is a safe, environmentally friendly fuel. It is an odorless, non-toxic and a non-corrosive liquid that evaporates quickly and disperses without leaving any residue. LNG is not stored under significant pressure. When vaporized, it is not explosive in an uncontained environment. LNG has much lower air emissions than other fossil fuels such as oil or coal, emitting 25% fewer greenhouse gases than diesel.

d. Where does LNG come from?

LNG is produced from a variety of locations with large natural gas reserves. More recently, large discoveries of shale gas in the US has the potential to make  the United States a major source of LNG for export.

e. How is LNG transported?

LNG is transported by specialized carriers with insulated walls specifically designed to handle the low temperature of LNG. Transportation of LNG via ship has a long record of safe operation. In the 50-plus year history of shipping LNG, ships transporting the product have traveled more than 151 million miles without a major incident. This outstanding safety record is attributable to continuous improvement in technology and safety equipment, as well as comprehensive safety regulations and effective government oversight.

 

Safety

a. Is the transport of LNG safe?

The safety history of the LNG industry, including shipping, import terminals and LNG storage facilities has been exceptional. The LNG shipping industry started in 1959 with the building of the Methane Pioneer and has grown to a fleet of nearly 300 LNGCs. In nearly 40,000 voyages, there has never been a release of cargo from a tank. Additionally, more than 135,000 LNG carrier voyages have taken place without major accidents or safety or security problems, either in port or at sea. There has not been any LNG-related loss of life for the crews and no LNG-related injury to the public.

b. Can LNG explode?

LNG is not explosive. Contrary to some misconceptions, LNG is not stored under pressure.  When vaporized, it is not explosive in an uncontained environment. Although a large amount of energy is stored in LNG, it cannot be released rapidly enough to cause the overpressure associated with an explosion. LNG vapors (methane) mixed with air are not explosive in an unconfined environment. Natural gas is flammable only within a narrow range of concentrations in the air (5% to 15%). At concentrations of methane lower than 5%, the mixture does not contain enough oxygen to sustain a flame; when the methane concentration exceeds 15%, there is not enough oxygen present to ignite a flame.

c. What would happen if there were a spill or release from a tanker? Would it harm the Bay or surrounding community?

LNG ships are designed with safety and security in mind and are among the most modern in the shipping industry. LNG vessels are double-hulled and are designed with primary and secondary cargo containment systems to prevent leaks or ruptures in the unlikely event of a grounding or collision. The primary and secondary cargo containment systems are protected by the outer and inner hulls and separated from the inner hull by more than six feet of void space or water ballast. LNG ships are equipped with emergency shutdown systems that significantly diminish the risk of an accidental release of LNG.

Should a tank ever fail and a leak result, fire is possible only if there is the right concentration of natural gas vapor in the air, as well as a source of ignition. This concentration is a mixture containing 5%–15% of natural gas in the air. For added security, FERC regulations also require safety zones around LNG facilities. The proposed location for the Aguirre Offshore GasPort is approximately 2.5 nautical miles from the nearest onshore community, which is Pozuelos.

d. What measures have been taken to ensure the LNG ships are safe?

LNG ships are designed with safety and security in mind and are among the most modern in the shipping industry. LNG vessels are double-hulled and are designed with primary and secondary cargo containment systems to prevent leaks or ruptures in the unlikely event of a grounding or collision. The primary and secondary cargo containment systems are protected by the outer and inner hulls and separated from the inner hull by more than six feet of void space or water ballast.

LNG ships are equipped with emergency shutdown systems that significantly diminish the risk of an accidental release of LNG. Onboard fire and gas detection and fire fighting systems automatically activate in case of fire. Special ship-operating procedures, crew training, and high standards of ship maintenance further contribute to safety.

The United States Coast Guard is responsible for assuring the safety of marine operations in United States coastal waters.Excelerate Energy operates the most technologically advanced LNG vessels on the market today. Our fleet incorporates numerous risk assessments and safeguards and exceeds all United States and international requirements.

e. Are high tides, currents, wind, and hurricanes a concern?

Excelerate Energy has established weather-safety procedures to ensure the safety of the terminal during hurricanes. In cases where a hurricane advisory is in effect, the FSRU is capable of disconnecting from the jetty and maneuvering to a location away from the storm’s path. 

Excelerate Energy has operated in inclement weather in the rough North Atlantic and in the hurricane-prone Gulf of Mexico. Our vessels are capable of withstanding 100-year storms.

f. Are there government safety procedures?

Stringent government and industry standards have helped the industry achieve an outstanding safety record. They provide design requirements and operational guidance to make sure these ships are designed, maintained, and manned with safety in mind. The government maintains oversight by periodic inspection and also sets the standards for crew training.

There are many federal and state agencies that will regulate various activities at the Aguirre Offshore GasPort Project including, but not limited to: 

  • Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC)
  • Unites States Corp of Engineers
  • National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)
  • United States Coast Guard
  • Puerto Rico Department of Natural and Environmental Resources (DNER)
  • Puerto Rico Department of Environmental Quality (EQB)

 

Marine Safety & Environment

a. Will air and water quality be impacted by the facility?

The Aguirre Offshore GasPort facility will be integral in lowering the air emissions of the Aguirre Power Complex in order to comply with the more stringent air quality standards promulgated by the EPA's Mercury and Air Toxics Standards (MATS). Also, the Aguirre Offshore GasPort will be moving fuel to an offshore location, a measure that will reduce or eliminate barge-delivery traffic in Jobos Bay, thus dramatically lowering the possibility of any fuel spills in the bay.

Although we see the project bringing benefits in these two areas, any potential consequences to air and water quality will be evaluated during the federal and local licensing process, with the full involvement of the public. The facility will not be permitted for construction if there is any effect on the environment that cannot be effectively mitigated if necessary.

b. What would be the environmental effect on fish and sea life if LNG were released into the ocean?

LNG ships are designed with safety and security in mind and are among the most modern in the shipping industry. LNG vessels are double-hulled and are designed with primary and secondary cargo containment systems to prevent leaks or ruptures in the unlikely event of a grounding or collision. The primary and secondary cargo containment systems are protected by the outer and inner hulls and separated from the inner hull by more than six feet of void space or water ballast. LNG ships are equipped with emergency shutdown systems that significantly diminish the risk of an accidental release of LNG.

If LNG were released, there would be little to no impact to the fish and sea life in the vicinity of the Aguirre Offshore GasPort. The gas would quickly warm, return to its gaseous state, and dissipate into the air. Because LNG is lighter in mass that water, it would not sink.

c. What are the potential effects on fishery activities due to LNG ship transit?

The Aguirre Offshore GasPort will be moving fuel to an offshore location, a measure that will reduce or eliminate barge-delivery traffic in Jobos Bay and have a positive impact on fishery activities in the Bay. Once construction of a receiving facility is complete and a permanent location has been established outside Jobos Bay, there would be no impact on local fishery activities within Jobos Bay.

d. What is the impact of the jetty on marine life?

The effect on marine life, if any, would be short-term, occurring only during project construction. Bathymetric and geophysical surveys are currently underway to identify any areas of potential impact on coral and sea grass beds so that adequate avoidance or mitigation plans can be developed. Once the facility is installed and in operation, no further impact on marine life is expected. The fixed infrastructure of the offshore marine terminal will most likely attract marine life.

e. What about the impact on manatees in Jobos Bay?

The project has anticipated the potential presence of manatees within Jobos Bay and has initiated consultations with Reserve personnel and other interested resource agencies. During construction, the project will implement NOAA-approved marine mammal observation training for all workers involved in installation activities for the project. When the facility goes into operation, all crewmembers of the FSRU and any required support vessels will receive annual training. All LNG supply vessels calling on the GasPort will be made aware of the sensitive area and briefed on manatee identification and avoidance.

f. Will the pipeline pose any risks to marine life or recreational boats?

Only during the installation of the pipeline will there be apparent risks to fishermen and recreational boaters, much like any other activity in an active construction zone. Notification of construction activities and schedules will be distributed throughout the neighboring communities. Signs and other indicators identifying construction zones will be in placed in the water until all construction activities are completed. Individuals with Internet access will be able to monitor construction activities on this website.

g. Will fishery and recreational activities be allowed near the facility?

Once the facility has been constructed and is in service, unfortunately, no. The Unites States Coast Guard will establish a security zone around the facility that prohibits any vessels not directly involved with the operation of the facility from approaching the GasPort. The purpose of this zone is to protect both the facility and ensure the safety of the public. Much like the Aguirre Power Plant, which has a perimeter safety fence around it, the Aguirre Offshore GasPort must maintain a minimum security perimeter, as well.

 

Permitting

a. What is the permitting process for an LNG facility?

The Aguirre Offshore GasPort will require authorization from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) and will be subject to a full public, environmental review and analysis under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). This process will be coordinated closely with all local permitting authorities, including but not limited to, the Puerto Rico Environmental Quality Board (EQB), the Puerto Planning Board (PB), the Office of General Permit Management (OGPe), and the Department of Natural and Environmental Resources (DNER).  Each of these Commonwealth agencies has agreed to be cooperating agencies with FERC on this project. Public participation is encouraged from start to finish.

b. How long will the regulatory and permitting process take before construction may begin?

For the Aguirre Offshore Project, the project took nearly four years to undergo an exhaustive analysis through the environmental review process that began in December of 2011. Within this timeframe, Excelerate has provided extensive information regarding the design, construction and operation of the Project to the FERC, cooperating agencies, and the general public. The regulatory and permitting process can approximately 18 - 24 months. The public process began in early 2012, and our goal is to have the facility in-service the first quarter of 2016.

c. What is involved in an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS)?

In the Federal NEPA review process, the lead federal agency is required to prepare an environmental impact statement (EIS) for any major federal action that significantly affects the quality of the environment. An EIS is a full-disclosure document that details the process by which a project was developed, includes consideration of a range of reasonable alternatives, analyzes the potential effects of the alternatives, and demonstrates compliance with other applicable environmental laws and executive orders. The EIS process is completed in the following ordered steps: Notice of Intent (NOI), draft EIS, final EIS (FEIS), and record of decision (ROD).

The NOI is published in the Federal Register by the lead federal agency and signals the initiation of the process. Scoping, an open process involving the public and federal, state and local agencies, commences immediately to identify the important issues for consideration during the study. Public involvement and agency coordination continues throughout the process. The draft EIS provides a detailed description of the proposal, the purpose and need for the project, reasonable alternatives to it, and how it impacts the affected environment. It presents an analysis of the anticipated beneficial and adverse environmental effects of the alternatives. Following a formal comment period and receipt of comments from the public and other agencies, the FEIS will be developed and issued. The FEIS will address the comments contained in the draft and identify, based on analysis and comments, the "preferred alternative."

In Puerto Rico, the Environmental Public Policy Act (PREPPA) requires similar documentation of environmental impacts associated with any major Commonwealth action that will significantly affect environmental quality.  For the purposes of the Aguirre Offshore GasPort Project (AOGP), a single EIS will be generated that will satisfy both the Federal NEPA and Commonwealth PREPPA process.  The agencies that have responsibility for ensuring compliance with the PREPPA process are acting as cooperating agencies on the AOGP project and will review and comment on the Federal EIS throughout the process.  The Federal EIS will also serve as the environmental documentation required for any and all Commonwealth permitting requirements.