Route for Port Dolphin LNG Pipeline Now Avoids Aquatic Preserve
by Sara Kennedy The Bradenton Herald, Fla.
November 21, 2007
Plans for an underwater pipeline connecting a natural-gas facility in the Gulf of Mexico with Manatee County, Fla., have been redrawn to spare an aquatic preserve.
"The new route goes north around the aquatic preserve," confirmed German Castro, project development manager for the $1 billion Port Dolphin Liquefied Natural Gas Deepwater Port on Tuesday.
"We modified construction with a very limited footprint. There will be no intruding in the preserve," he said.
The original route called for the submerged 42-mile pipeline to cross a sand burrow area near the northern tip of Anna Maria Island, traverse the mouth of the Manatee River and skirt the northern edge of the Terra Ceia Aquatic Preserve.
In September, state environmental officials warned that a permit for such a route would be "very difficult" to grant. Both state and federal agencies must OK plans before the company Port Dolphin Energy LLC, a subsidiary of Hoegh LNG AS of Oslo, Norway, may begin construction.
"The reaction we got from both agencies was very positive," Castro said. "And they are satisfied with our approach to stay out of the aquatic preserve."
The 25,000-acre preserve is home to mangroves, mangrove islands with oyster beds, clam beds and seagrasses and other types of flora and fauna. Among its unique features is a "hard bottom" habitat, with corals and sponges attached to limestone, said Randy Runnels, Ph.D., manager of Tampa Bay aquatic preserves for the Florida Department of Environmental Protection.
"It's a really spectacular habitat," he said. "We want to make sure habitats like it are spared."
The new route is slightly longer on one side but calls for almost the same length of pipeline as the original route, Castro said.
The company intends to file formal plans showing the new route on Dec. 7.
The pipeline would connect an offshore natural gas terminal 28 miles southwest of Tampa Bay with Port Manatee. The company hopes to have all its permits by late 2009, with construction by 2010 and operations slated to begin in 2011, Castro said.
Copyright (c) 2007, The Bradenton Herald, Fla. Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services.
Port Dolphin Project
Port Dolphin Energy LLC (subsidiary of Hoegh LNG AS)
offshore Tampa Bay, FL United States