LNG Terminal Proposed on Delaware River, South of Philadelphia Airport

by Duane Nichols on June 22, 2022

Delaware Riverkeeper has been very busy, including this Forum in 2020

Major export terminal pitched in Chester sets up clash between Biden’s LNG, environmental justice goals

From an Article by Susan Phillips, Allegheny Front, June 15, 2022

Plans for a massive liquefied natural gas (LNG) facility and export terminal in Chester along the Delaware River have quietly been shopped around to current and former elected officials and their representatives from Chester City Hall to the governor’s office in Harrisburg.

Penn America Energy LLC, the New York-based company behind the estimated $4 billion-to-$8 billion project, wants to build on a 100-acre brownfield site along the Chester waterfront with the goal of exporting 7 million metric tonnes of LNG each year to countries in South America, Europe, and Asia, according to the documents.

For comparison, six current LNG export terminals in the U.S. shipped 7.6 million metric tonnes of LNG overseas in March, according to the Energy Information Administration.

“Cleanest” natural gas (… try not to laugh out loud, DGN)

Franc James, Penn America’s CEO, told WHYY News the project has been in the works for five years, and is “sourcing the cleanest environmentally responsible natural gas possible.” Also, he said, “As an environmentalist, I want to set a new standard for being the most environmentally responsible and sustainable project ever developed,” Franc said in an email. “Natural gas from the Marcellus is the cleanest natural gas in the world now and working to be even cleaner. That greatly appeals to us and in support of a new standard worldwide.”

In response to questions about the relative cleanliness of Marcellus Shale, Penn America LNG provided a chart by the Clean Air Task Force, which says due to regulations and efforts by producers, natural gas production in the Appalachian Basin emits the least amount of methane worldwide.

While James did not provide details or a timeline for the project, a February 2021 report by Penn LNG, obtained by WHYY News, describes the project. James said the site has not yet been secured, but others briefed on the plan say the company is eyeing the former Ford factory.

James told WHYY News that anticipating a shipping date is premature. But a project overview in the report says the engineering firm Bechtel and Air Products would build a (processing) plant that could freeze one billion cubic feet of Marcellus and Utica shale gas a day with a target to start shipping overseas in 2027 or 2028.

A new pipeline, jobs and lots of power

A new five-mile right-of-way would be required for a pipeline that would connect the plant to a supply of Marcellus and Utica natural gas at Enbridge’s proposed expansion of the “Philadelphia Lateral.” That line would tap into the Texas Eastern line, starting at the Eagle compressor station in Chester Springs and ending at the planned Chester Junction station in Delaware County. From there, the final five miles of pipe would connect to the liquefaction plant.

The company estimates 4,000-plus jobs during construction, and increased city and state tax revenues, according to the report. It also promised to minimize greenhouse gas emissions in part by not using natural gas to power the liquefaction but using electricity instead.

James told WHYY that the company plans to use as much renewable energy to power the plant as possible. But the feasibility of that plan is unclear given the enormous amount of energy it takes to cool the methane to negative 260 degrees Fahrenheit, at which point it becomes a liquid, capable of being loaded into a specialized container to ship overseas. Most LNG facilities use between 8-10 percent of the natural gas supply at the plant to power the liquefaction.

While Penn America LNG has connected with a group of influential local political players to shepherd the project through, it could take several years to navigate a complex federal regulatory process with no guarantee of success.

Construction of such an immense industrial project in the heart of an environmental justice community still reeling from legacy pollution and current environmental, health, and socioeconomic disadvantages also presents obstacles and challenges for the Biden Administration’s own focus on racial equity in siting new industrial facilities.

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