Dominion Cove Point LNG
Cove Point LNG Terminal is an offshore liquid natural gas shipping terminal. It is located near Lusby, Maryland, United States, on the western shore of the Chesapeake Bay, which receives imported liquefied natural gas (LNG) and also stores gas. LNG arrives on specially designed ships known as LNG carriers.
The facility was originally certificated in 1972 for the purpose of importing Algerian LNG for resale by the Columbia and Consolidated Natural Gas systems. Cove Point began receiving LNG imported from Algeria between 1978 and 1980. At that time, the Algerians demanded an unacceptable price increase, and the terminal fell into disuse. In 1994, the facility was transformed into a facility to store domestic natural gas. A liquefaction unit was installed which cools natural gas to the point where it becomes a liquid, around −162 °C (−260 °F). The facility continued to use the original LNG storage tanks and gasifier units. Both the storage and import activity are subject to regulation by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) under the Natural Gas Act.
In 2001, various parties agreed to resume imports at the facility, while continuing its storage operations. Following the construction of a fifth LNG storage tank, imports resumed summer 2003. The imported LNG suppliers include BG LNG, Shell LNG, and Statoil. In 2006, FERC authorized a further expansion of Cove Point's import capacity on an unregulated basis, with Statoil holding the expanded capacity. Storage capacity has recently expanded from 7.8 billion cubic feet of natural gas to the current 14.6 billion cubic feet.
On 1 April 2013, Dominion filed an application with the FERC (Docket Number CP13-113) for expansion of the Cove Point facilities for gas liquefaction and export. The proposed expansion is projected to cost $3.4 billion to $3.8 billion.
In 2001, when the plant was scheduled to reopen, many local residents were concerned about the proximity to Calvert Cliffs Nuclear Power Plant (3 miles), and the damage that could be caused by an attack or an explosion at the plant. Residents thought that the FERC did not consider the risks before opening the plant.
Because the LNG at Cove Point contains a higher heat content than domestic natural gas, a local gas utility which receives LNG from Cove Point, Washington Gas Light Company, complained in 2005 that its customers were adversely affected by this "hot" gas. As a result, the parties agreed to limit the heat content of the output of the terminal to 1075 Btu per million ft³ (1.134 MJ/m³) by diluting it with nitrogen gas.
Subsequently, Washington Gas Light experienced a 16-fold increase in gas leaks on residential service connections in Prince Georges County, Maryland, which is served directly by pipeline from the plant. These leaks come from mechanical couplings which contain rubber gaskets. Washington Gas Light claims that because the Cove Point gas has less hexane and other heavy hydrocarbons than does domestic natural gas, the Cove Point gas causes the gaskets to dry out and leak. Cove Point disputes these claims and argues that Washington Gas's arguments are flawed and the expansion will not cause additional leaks in the District of Columbia and Northern Virginia suburbs as the area served by unblended LNG increases.
In 2006, Cove Point filed a rate increase with FERC proposing to raise the prices it charges to customers in Georgia, North Carolina, Virginia, and Maryland by 109 percent.
Most recently, Dominion Resources and Dominion Cove Point have come under fire for their plan to convert Cove Point from an import facility to an export facility. Opponents of the plan say that increased demand for natural gas would cause a fracking boom across the mid-Atlantic. They also argue that exports would lead to a spike in gas prices, hurting small businesses and families on a budget. According to the NERA Economic Consulting Analysis commissioned by the U.S. Department of Energy, exporting natural gas harms every major sector of the U.S. economy, except the gas industry. The proposed expansion is still subject to a number of decisions by federal and state regulators, and a decision isn't likely to be reached soon.
- diagram of system accessed 2012-01-02
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- "Worries Aside, Cove Point Gas Plant Gets a Green Light". Bay Weekly. 2001-01-03. Archived from the original on March 21, 2006. Retrieved October 9, 2010.
- Jake Dweck and David Wochner (March 2006). "LNG's Final Hurdle". Public Utilities Fortnightly. Sutherland. Retrieved 2010-03-06.
- http://elibrary.ferc.gov/idmws/common/opennat.asp?fileID=11078232 Retrieved 2007-02-16