The Manatee County Port Authority on Thursday approved a long-term $30 million agreement with Port Dolphin Energy LLC, providing Florida with a second major source of natural gas.
Port Dolphin officials estimate its project will generate more than $150 million in direct economic impact within Manatee County during the next 20 years. Construction of the project is expected to begin in 2012 with completion in 2013.
"With the addition of Port Dolphin to our growing family of energy-related companies, Port Manatee exhibits its leadership as an incubator for local jobs and regional economic growth," said Larry Bustle, chairman of the Manatee County Port Authority. "This agreement reinforces the port's financial strength with a new, recurring revenue stream."
During the first five years of the agreement, Port Manatee will receive more than $16 million in cash and assets, followed by about $15 million over the remainder of the agreement.
"The Manatee County Port Authority, along with port staff, guided this agreement to a successful conclusion and as a result the community will benefit with new jobs and the state will benefit with a new source of natural gas," said Port Manatee Executive Director David L. McDonald PPM.
The port authority's approval precedes a pending decision by the U. S. Maritime Administration to issue a deepwater port license to Port Dolphin to construct a liquefied natural gas (LNG) port 28 miles off the coast of Manatee County, Fla.
With MARAD's deepwater port license, LNG tankers would arrive at Port Dolphin's offshore facility and then connect to a new undersea pipeline system that would come onshore at Port Manatee. Port Dolphin's vessels will be outfitted to re-gasify its cargo of LNG, returning it to a gaseous state onboard the offshore ships. The natural gas would then be fed into a submerged pipeline, ultimately serving customers throughout Florida.
"This occasion marks another important milestone in Port Dolphin's quest to provide solutions for Florida's growing energy demands," according to Port Dolphin Vice President German Castro. "We look forward to becoming an important part of Manatee County's business community."
In addition to its offshore port facility and pipeline, Port Dolphin will also base an operations center at Port Manatee, Castro said.
According to a recent economic impact study, Port Manatee currently contributes more than $2.3 billion to the region's economy annually and creates directly or indirectly nearly 24,000 jobs.
Florida's first trans-Gulf of Mexico natural gas pipeline made landfall at Port Manatee in 2002.