The first tanker carrying liquefied natural gas was sitting offshore near the Gulf LNG terminal Wednesday, waiting to deliver a load of the super-cooled product sometime this week.
A second tanker is expected. The two are part of a commissioning process for the terminal, El Paso Corp. officials told the Sun Herald on Wednesday. The liquefied natural gas in the tankers will be used to cool down the plant, acclimating the tanks and pipes to the temperatures. LNG is natural gas cooled to â??260 degrees, the point at which it becomes a liquid.
The commissioning prepares the terminal for an October opening, when it will be officially up and running.
El Paso is half-owner and operator of Gulf LNG. The other investors are GE Financial Services and Sonangol, the national oil company for Angola.
The $1.1 billion terminal has twin tanks with a capacity to store 6.6 billion cubic feet of natural gas, enough to supply all of Mississippi for a week.
The terminal is south of Chevron's Pascagoula Refinery on Bayou Casotte near the Pascagoula ship channel.
Bill Baerg, spokesman for El Paso, a Houston-based company, said Gulf LNG has two customers with 20-year service agreements -- Angola LNG, a consortium of companies that produce LNG, and ENI, an Italian energy firm. The terminal is designed to store their product, turn it back into a gas and then deliver it via nearby interstate pipelines. It can accommodate one tanker at a time.
"The facility doesn't buy LNG," Baerg said. "We serve our customers."
When fully operational, the LNG terminal will become one of the Port of Pascagoula's biggest clients, generating $3 million to $4 million in rent and cargo fees.
The port, however, will incur the expense of keeping the tanker berth dredged to the needed depth. And part of Gulf LNG's rent will go to the state Tidelands Fund.
Copyright (c) 2011, The Sun Herald, Biloxi, Miss. Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services.