The head of a company that wants to build a liquefied natural gas terminal on the U.S. side of Passamaquoddy Bay near New Brunswick vows to continue fighting, despite another company's proposal being dismissed by U.S. regulators last week.
"We’re still moving forward," said Dean Girdis, president of Downeast LNG.
The proposal by Calais LNG for a billion dollar terminal in Calais, Me., was dismissed by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission on April 4 after officials determined the company did not have the necessary financing, or an approved site for a terminal.
Girdis concedes he still faces many challenges before his proposed terminal in Robbinston, opposite St. Andrews, can be approved, financed and built.
'New England, despite all this shale gas, is still dependant on LNG in the winter time to meet domestic demand for gas.' —Dean Girdis, Downeast LNG
"We're one step at a time and we're still at the step of going through the environmental permitting process," he said.
But Girdis maintains there is a need for a liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminal.
"New England, despite all this shale gas, is still dependant on LNG in the winter time to meet domestic demand for gas," he said.
LNG opponent Robert Godfrey, a member of Save Passamaquoddy Bay, disagrees.
"From an economic standpoint it makes no sense whatsoever," he said, noting the number of companies hoping to build LNG terminals in the U.S. has recently dropped from dozens to just two after it was discovered there is plenty of natural gas buried deep in shale already inside U.S. borders.
"We're going to dog this other one until it's done, until it's gone," said Godfrey, referring to Downeast LNG.
Calais LNG seeks financing
Meanwhile, the project development manager for Calais LNG describes the federal regulator’s decision against his company’s proposal as merely a setback.
The company will continue to search for financing, said Ian Emery.
"We hoped to be in operation by 2014. We're looking more at a 2017-18 time horizon," he said.
Godfrey, however, believes it’s "highly unlikely" the company will find financial backing with the cheap shale gas now available inside U.S. borders making LNG look like a risky investment.
"I mean Goldman Sachs is a pretty smart outfit and they deserted the project because they saw it wasn't going to make money," he said.
GS Power Holdings, a subsidiary of investment backing giant Goldman Sachs, decided to back away from the project in July 2010.
"The project is dead," said Godfrey.
Emery contends the estimated amounts of shale gas available in the U.S. are greatly exaggerated.