The Cove Point LNG Terminal, the Maryland-based export facility, just shipped its first export of LNG to little fanfare of coverage.
Thursday, March 1, something big happened without a whole lot of fanfare, news coverage, or glamour: Cove Point just exported its first shipment of liquified natural gas!
Dominion Energy, which owns and operates the liquefaction facility, issued a press release that was picked up by our local Baltimore CBS and Reuters also cut a story, but when it comes to coverage, only those who follow oil and gas and those in the maritime industries seem to know.
This is of course based on a few new searches on Cove Point, but I would have expected a bigger splash than it has so far received. I mean this shipment is from the second, still being commissioned, LNG export facility in the Lower 48. This facility will tack on the “Net Exporter” status with regard to our nation’s gas output; Cheniere’s Sabine Pass terminal in Louisiana having exported its first cargo in February, 2016. It wasn’t, perhaps, one of those events commanding “pomp and circumstance,” but I do hope some Victorian-dress Dominion employee smacked a bottle of champagne against the aft of the ship. I am sure this is frowned upon these days, but that’s what my mind’s eye sees.
With construction beginning in 2014 on conversions of the once-import facility, this $4 billion-dollar project is the largest ever for Maryland and Dominion. The Dominion press release boasted that the project involved 10,000 craft workers and a $565 million-dollar payroll. This also doesn’t consider the potential ongoing economic impact on the area.
This first shipment of liquified natural gas (LNG) was loaded on to a Royal Dutch Shell vessel, the Gemmata, during a 41-hour visit to the Cove Point Terminal. There is not any official word where this commissioning cargo will be headed now, but Reuters mentioned that it was available for orders. This is not going to be the case moving forward.
Cove Point LNG Terminal has a storage capacity of 14.6 billion cubic feet (BCF) and a daily send-out capacity of 1.8 BCF and that marketed capacity is already spoken for by Pacific Summit Energy, a U.S. affiliate of Japan’s Sumitomo Corp and GAIL Global (USA) LNG LLC, a U.S. affiliate of GAIL (India) Ltd. under 20-year service agreements.
In fact, there is already another vessel in route to Cove Point. The Methane Spirit is currently outside of Singapore and should reach the facility around March 31 – about the same time the export facility should come fully online.
This is great news, but the developers of this project have had to fight tooth and nail to get this far. Radical groups such as the despicable Chesapeake Action Network, Citizen Shale, and “We Are Cove Point,” a/k/a the usual stooges, have tried to lead a smear campaign against the project from day one. “We Are Cove Point” even held a series of rallies late last year to try to get the Maryland Public Service Commission to deny newly-needed permits.
The group has been really quiet lately, probably throwing in their own terracotta soldiers in the Potomac Pipeline wars; but I’m sure once the group sees their frivolous actions have had little effect, they will turn up to try again some way, somehow. I am guessing that around March 20, they will market their non-profit credit card, Alliance for Global Justice (you should read this post), and go for their Hail Mary.
Regardless of them, this commissioning export is a fantastic start to the East Coast terminal. It will not be long now before the gas in Tokyo is from the Keystone State.