Here are answers to frequently asked questions about the Annova LNG Brownsville Project.
What is the Annova LNG Brownsville Project?
Exelon and Annova LNG are exploring the development of a mid-scale natural gas liquefaction and transfer facility at the Port of Brownsville. If built, the Annova LNG Brownsville Project would be a much-needed economic boost for Brownsville and the Rio Grande Valley. One way or another, natural gas is to be exported from South Texas in any number of ways. We should get behind this LNG transfer facility to diversify our local economy so our communities receive the benefits. The project has been designed with a footprint that minimizes environmental impacts and meets or exceeds safety standards. To become a reality, Annova LNG must clear three hurdles: successfully complete all regulatory application, review, and permitting processes; secure long term customers; and enjoy broad public support.
What would this mean to the local economy?
Construction would support an average monthly workforce of 700 over 50 months. Once operational, the project would support 165 jobs with an average salary of $70,000 per year.
Exelon would invest $3 billion to construct and operate the facility. In addition, the project could provide more than $61 million in state and local taxes annually during operation.
What is the potential investment required if the project proceeds?
It is estimated that the project will cost more than $3 billion.
How many jobs is this project likely to create, both construction and permanent?
Construction of the project would occur over 50 months and would support an average of 700 on-site jobs. Once operational, the facility would employ about 165 workers at an average salary of about $70,000 a year.
Where can I apply for a job?
As the project progresses, visit www.exeloncorp.com for permanent positions. Once Exelon Generation and Annova LNG decide to move forward with construction, visit local job boards in South Texas for construction positions.
When did Annova LNG submit the application for the Annova LNG Brownsville Project?
Annova LNG submitted its application to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) on Wednesday, July 13.
Where can I find a copy of the application?
The application FERC will be available at www.FERC.gov. The docket number is CP16-480-000.
Why has Exelon Generation chosen to site this facility in Texas?
Texas has excellent market conditions and is a major producer of natural gas. Building a facility to treat, store, and transport that product makes good business sense for Exelon Generation and the Rio Grande Valley.
Why was the Port of Brownsville in particular chosen for this project?
Brownsville offers land availability, proximity to natural gas reserves, industrial and commercial infrastructure, and shipping channel access. In addition, the Rio Grande Valley has a pool of skilled workers to construct and operate the plant. All of this makes Brownsville the right choice to be considered for Annova LNG.
When will Exelon Generation build this facility?
The project depends upon Annova LNG successfully obtaining all necessary local, state, and federal permits; sufficient long-term customer commitments to buy liquefied natural gas from the facility; and broad public support of the project in South Texas.
Where would Annova LNG ship the product? Who is the customer?
Annova LNG is talking to a number of potential customers, but it’s too early to provide further details.
When will you make a decision?
Before Exelon Generation decides to move forward, a number of evaluation criteria need to be met, including obtaining all necessary local, state, and federal permits; sufficient long-term customer commitments to buy liquefied natural gas from the facility; and broad public support of the project in South Texas. A decision whether to build the facility is expected in 2018.
What are the impacts to recreational fishing and boating?
The project site, itself, is not an ecotourism destination. Recreational fishermen are known to drive through the site to access the BSC, but removal of the project site as an access point for recreational fishing and boat launches would not eliminate anglers’ access; other access points, roads, public launch sites, and marinas are available along the BSC. Also, construction and operation-related vessel traffic will not be a significant addition to the current vessel traffic in the BSC. Thus, vessels associated with the project during construction and operation would not impact recreational fishermen or boaters. Recreational users may experience delays when LNG carriers navigate the BSC, but otherwise will be able to fish in the BSC and pass through it on their way to the bays or the Gulf.
Is LNG environmentally friendly?
When LNG is vaporized and used as fuel, it reduces particle emissions to near zero and carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions by 70 percent in comparison with other, heavier hydrocarbon fuels. When burned for power generation, the results are even more dramatic. Sulfur dioxide (SO2) emissions are virtually eliminated and CO2 emissions are reduced significantly. If spilled on water or land, LNG will not mix with the water or soil, but evaporates and dissipates into the air leaving no residue. It does not dissociate or react as do other hydrocarbon gases and is not considered an emission source.
Additionally, there are significant benefits when natural gas is used over other fossil fuels. Methane is considered to be a greenhouse gas. Greenhouse gases are thought to play a role in climate change. Methane is captured and contained at all LNG facilities as well as in facilities such as natural gas pipelines and prevented from entering the atmosphere.
What about safety concerns and environmental impacts, including to endangered species, associated with this facility?
The Annova LNG Brownsville Project is committed to working with the community to address safety or environmental concerns associated with the project, including endangered species.
Annova LNG will abide by the rigorous approval process of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission and federal and state permitting processes to ensure safety and minimize environmental impacts.
LNG plants have operated for more than 50 years without an incident that affected the public’s safety. In the LNG industry worldwide there have been more than 38,000 voyages by LNG ships, covering more than 60 million miles. LNG is not flammable, nor will it explode. If spilled, LNG will not mix with water or soil but instead quickly vaporizes and dissipates into the atmosphere leaving no residue. It dissipates as natural gas, and is no different from the natural gas used for heating and cooking in thousands of homes and in the hundreds of pipelines that have crisscrossed Cameron County for years. The closest residence is more than two miles from the Annova LNG site and the closest population center is over five miles away.
The Annova LNG Brownsville Project must meet standards for public safety and environmental protection established by numerous local, state, and federal authorities, including: Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, U.S. Department of Energy, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, U.S. Coast Guard, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, Texas Fish and Wildlife Department, and Cameron County. The effectiveness of current safety rules and standards designed to protect the public, workers and the environment has been confirmed by a report commissioned by the U.S. Coast Guard and Department of Energy.
The safety features of the LNG transfer facility are designed to keep any impact from hazardous materials inside the fence line of the facility. These features are further discussed in Resource Report 11, “Reliability and Safety,” of the FERC application.
Annova has also designed the facility to accommodate a wildlife corridor on the western side of the project site to facilitate wildlife movement through the site, including the endangered ocelot. Additional avoidance, minimization, and mitigation measures for threatened and endangered species can be found in Resource Report 3, “Fish, Wildlife, and Vegetation,” of the FERC application.
How will Annova LNG mitigate the impacts associated with the project footprint?
Annova LNG will address environmental impacts through design, construction, and operation measures that avoid, minimize, and mitigate impacts from the project.
After consultation with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Annova LNG moved the site layout – the placement of each building and system – to preserve a wildlife corridor for wildlife movement.
Annova LNG will use power from the Texas electric supply, rather than producing power on site using gas turbines, which will result in emissions of air pollutants below the federal regulatory threshold for construction of a major source (250 tons per year of any listed pollutant).
The project also will not use any groundwater during construction or operation, and instead will have potable water delivered via a regional water supplier.
Down-shielded lights and limited flaring will minimize adverse impacts on the view. Construction and operation of the project will be conducted in a manner that protects the safety and health of the public and workers, minimizes impacts to sensitive natural resources, and demonstrates compliance with applicable local, state, and federal regulations. Annova LNG also plans to paint tall structures with a color that blends in with the landscape of the area.
How are LNG ships designed to be safe?
LNG ships are especially designed with a double hull to provide optimum protection for the cargo in the event of collision or grounding. The ship has safety equipment to facilitate ship handling and cargo system handling. The ship-handling safety features include sophisticated radar and positioning systems that enable the crew to monitor the ship’s position, other traffic, and previously identified hazards around the ship. A global maritime distress system automatically transmits signals if there is an onboard emergency requiring external assistance. The cargo-system safety features include an extensive instrumentation package that safely shuts down the system if it starts to operate outside of predetermined parameters. Ships also have gas- and fire detection systems, nitrogen purging, double hulls, and double containment tanks or leak pans. Should fire occur on the ship, two 100 percent safety relief valves on each tank are designed to release the ensuing boil off gas to the atmosphere without over pressurizing the tank.
LNG ships use approach velocity meters when berthing to ensure that the prescribed impact velocity for the berth fenders are not exceeded. When moored, lines are automatically monitored to ensure individual line loads to help maintain the security of the mooring arrangement while alongside are acceptable. When connected to the onshore system, the instrument systems and the shore-ship LNG transfer system acts as one system, allowing emergency shutdowns of the entire system from ship and from shore.
How will this plant affect my (and my family's) health?
Safety of the public and workers is Annova LNG’s first priority. The standards, codes, and regulations that apply to the LNG industry further strengthen safety. Historically, the LNG industry has high safety standards and a proven safety record.
The design, construction, and operation of the Annova LNG facility will comply with local, state, and federal requirements for safety and protection of public health and the environment.
Annova LNG is consulting with these agencies to understand their concerns and ensure that regulatory standards are met and are protective of human health and the environment.
Additionally, Annova LNG will provide appropriate security, planning, prevention, and risk mitigation in close coordination with local, state, and federal authorities, including the U.S. Coast Guard. These measures will significantly reduce public and worker safety risks.
How will Annova LNG mitigate the effects of fencing, flaring, and other light and noise from project construction and operation on the ocelots and other threatened and endangered species that are in and about the project site?
Annova LNG is consulting with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) and National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) to avoid, minimize, and mitigate impacts on endangered species and migratory birds. Annova LNG is also consulting with the Texas Parks & Wildlife Department (TPWD) on state-listed threatened and endangered species. After consultation with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Annova LNG moved the site layout – the placement of each building and system – to preserve a wildlife corridor for wildlife movement, including the ocelot.
Fencing and lighting are needed at the facility for security. Lighting will meet mandatory safety and OSHA building requirements and will be directed downward within the facility and inward along the fence line. Perimeter fencing and other protective features described in the Facility Security Plan will be consistent with regulations and or approvals by the FERC, the DOT, and the USCG.
To assess construction and operation noise levels, Annova LNG conducted an ambient sound level survey to determine existing noise levels at Noise Sensitive Areas (NSAs). In addition, Annova LNG modeled predicted sound levels during both construction and operation based on proposed equipment and operations to determine whether noise levels will remain within required levels. The noise modeling determined that noise levels during construction may range from unnoticeable to intrusive, but will be temporary and that noise levels will remain within the threshold limit during operation.
Generally, flaring will be infrequent. At the beginning of plant operations, continuous flaring could take place for a couple of weeks before settling into normal flaring activity. During regular operation, the Annova facility would flare excess natural gas an estimated 0.09% of the time – about 50 hours a year. The facility design includes two flare stacks less than 200 feet tall (as a comparison wind turbines and power plant stacks typically stand 500 feet tall).
Annova LNG will implement design, construction, and operation procedures to ensure that the project minimizes impacts on sensitive biological resources, including the ocelot. Prior to clearing of vegetation and during construction as needed, qualified biologists will survey for federally listed species, including ocelot dens and nests of northern aplomado falcons, as well as nests of other migratory birds that may be present on the site. Resource Report 3, “Fish, Wildlife and Vegetation,” of the application for Authorization to Site and Operate an LNG Terminal discusses project impacts on ocelots and other threatened and endangered species.
During preparation of the EIS, the FERC will prepare a Biological Assessment to describe any likely effects on threatened and endangered species, including the ocelot. The USFWS will then issue a Biological Opinion for the project. In consultation with USFWS, NMFS, and TPWD, Annova LNG is developing appropriate mitigation measures to minimize the effects of fencing, flaring, light, and noise from project construction and operation on wildlife.
Will there be flaring at the Annova LNG Brownsville facility?
At the beginning of plant operations, continuous flaring could take place for a couple of weeks before settling into normal flaring activity. During regular operation, the Annova facility would flare excess natural gas an estimated 0.09% of the time – about 50 hours a year. The design includes two flare stacks less than 200 feet tall (as a comparison, wind turbines and power plant stacks typically stand 500 feet tall).
How tall will the Annova LNG Brownsville facility flare be?
Two flare stacks will be built on the facility, each less than 200 feet tall.
Will there be a smell coming from the facility?
No. An odorant is added to methane gas when it is sent to homes and businesses. That odorant is added because natural gas is naturally odorless and the additive helps homeowners and businesses detect leaks. LNG facilities use other safety measures, and do not have a need to add any odorant, so there will not be a natural gas smell coming from the facility.