Golden Pass LNG Open House draws crowd to Sabine Pass

Published 7:42 pm Tuesday, July 30, 2013

An Open House designed to educate the community about Golden Pass’ Products plans to expand the company’s LNG terminal drew a packed crowd Tuesday.

From Port Arthur city officials, to Sabine Pass business owners and local anglers, there were plenty coming to get educated about the $10 billion expansion that will add liquefied natural gas export capabilities to the existing terminal.

“This certainly is going to contribute to our economic growth. Not only for the city of Port Arthur, but for the entire region, and especially Sabine Pass,” Port Arthur Mayor Deloris “Bobbie” Prince, said.

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By the time the project is operational in five years, Southeast Texas will have already started reaping the rewards of the massive investment, Bill Davis project executive, said.

The venture will take the area’s abundance of the natural resource and make it available to marketplaces all over the world.

Currently, the project is in the federal permitting stages, and the first shipment is expected to go out in 2018, Davis said.

The LNG project will bring an estimated 45,000 jobs across the nation during construction, 2,600 permanent Jefferson County jobs during operations, and a $31 billion economic gain both directly and indirectly, Davis said.

The project has received its free trade agreement permits for doing business with countries such as Chile, Australia, Panama, and others, and is awaiting a permit to do business with non-free trade nations.

The project is also awaiting permission from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to begin pre-filing for the necessary design, environment and construction permits.

Construction is slated to begin once the permitting process is complete, likely in 2015.

Kirk Blood was among the community members attending the open house. His feelings, he said, were mixed about the venture.

As owner of Tammie’s Old Time Diner in Sabine Pass, Blood said he is thrilled that the project will bring economic growth to an area that is all but stagnant these days.

Not only is Sabine Pass still reeling from the damage caused from hurricanes Rita and Ike, lately many oil-related jobs that had sustained the area are gone.

“The oilfield has gone down, there are not nearly as many rigs, construction or drilling — just not much going on right now,” Blood said.

Add to that the storms that cut the population in half, and you have a community struggling to survive, he said.

But, while the jobs are welcome, Blood, a member of Saltwater Angler League of Texas, said he is concerned the added ships using the channel could negatively affect the area’s fishing.

“I am interested in knowing how they are going to manage their ships. There could be some conflicts,” Blood said.

According to Blood, Golden Pass’ vessel management plan allows 200 ships per year. When either coming or going, the ships because of their dangerous load, are required to have a security zone.

“It could kill our fishing,” Jim Meadows, 57, of Nederland said.

Meadows, also a member of S.A.L.T. said the believed the LNG ships were no more dangerous than other ships carrying cargo to and from local refineries and petrochemical plants, yet the Homeland Security guidelines are more stringent on those carrying the  LNG product.

“I’m not mitigating the danger on any of these ships. They aren’t coming in here with Dawn dishwashing liquid. They are all dangerous,” Meadows said. “But, our reaction that they need extra security might be over the top.”

Tuesday’s open house in Sabine Pass was the second for the company. The first was in Starks, La., and a third is scheduled in Vidor from 5 p.m. until 7 p.m.  Aug. 1 at theVFW Post 8246, 2110 S. Main St.

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