"We're still trying to
understand what happened there," Lauren Segal told Delaforum as
the energy company hosted the first of three community meetings
in the Delaware
River valley to
tell why the proposed plant
will be beneficial to
the region while posing virtually no risk. Segal is the project
Those on the other
side, which includes some outspoken environmental activists,
have focused on an explosion at a
at Skikda in January, which killed 30 people and injured 74, and
scenario affecting communities along both sides of the river
between Wilmington and Philadelphia, Penns Grove and Camden.
'workshop'-style informational meeting in Claymont on Mar.
9, Segal said there is a significant difference between what
exploded in North Africa and what is planned for the New
Jersey location, directly opposite the industrial complex
straddling the Delaware-Pennsylvania border. "That
[involved] a high-pressure boiler and nothing like that is
planned here," she said.
Tankers such as the one
depicted by this model displayed at a 'workshop' meeting in
Claymont would bring natural gas in liquid form up the
Delaware River to B.P.'s proposed plant at Crown Point, N.J.
Stopping well short of
claiming nothing untoward could happen while stressing the
natural gas industry's overall safety record, she said B.P. is
reserving judgment until results of the official investigation
of the Skikda accident are in. The U.S. Federal Energy
Regulatory Commission has joined Algerian authorities in
conducting the investigation.
The commission is the
agency which must grant the primary permit to allow B.P. to
build the plant. Richard Elliott, one of the B.P. people manning
exhibits at the meeting, said a permit application has been
filed and that normal consideration of it should take between 12
and 18 months. State and local permits will be sought
concurrently, he said.
It has not yet been
determined, he added, whether a Delaware permit will be
required. The plant itself will be in New Jersey, but the pier
at which tankers bringing the liquefied gas will dock at a pier
extending out into the river. Because the Delaware boundary
reaches to the Jersey coast, the pier would be in Delaware. It
would appear that it would fall under the provisions of the
Delaware Coastal Zone Act.
It would take about
three years after all the required permits are in hand for the
plant to be built, Elliott said.
Natural gas recovered
by B.P. in Trinidad and turned into a liquid would be delivered
to the plant in large tankers and stored in three refinery-style
tanks. Both the ships and the tanks would be heavily insulated
to prevent the liquid from prematurely becoming gas and
reinforced for safety. Conversion to gas with the use of heat
exchangers would be part of the process of transferring it to
the existing natural gas pipeline, which passes underground by
the site, for distribution to customers in the Middle Atlantic
Segal said odor would
be added to the fuel and, except for volume, the product in the
pipeline would be the same that is pumped through this area and
routinely burned in houses and commercial buildings. Many
environmentalists and others generally regard it, from an
air-quality perspective, as the fuel of choice, she said.
Turnaround time from
ship to the existing natural gas pipeline will be about three
days, based on an estimate of 100 ship arrivals a year,
according to Aleita Rias, another B.P. host. The plant's
processing capacity is to be 1.2 billion cubic feet a day, an
amount of natural gas that could warm 5 million houses.
B.P. is a combination,
through mergers, of British Petroleum, American Oil, Atlantic
Richfield and Castrol.
Segal said the
company's intention to build the plant, at an estimated cost
of $500 million, is in response to rapid growth in
demand for natural gas as both a residential and an industrial
fuel. "The United States in recent years has developed a huge
appetite for natural gas," she said.
Natural gas, once a
waste product of oil exploration, is both efficient and
'environmentally friendly', she said. When it comes to
recognizing and acting upon that, "we're playing catch-up with
Europe and Japan," she added.
Conectiv Energy sells
natural gas in Delaware, obtaining its supply by pipeline from
the Gulf of Mexico coast. If and when the B.P. plant comes on
line, the utility presumably would contract locally. But B.P.
people at the meeting said volatility of the market makes it
impossible to estimate what effect resultant reduction in the
transportation component of the wholesale cost would have on