This week, Andrew Maykuth of The Philadelphia Inquirer reported on a confidential study by CH-IV International that points to the possibility of converting PGW’s Port Richmond facility into a LNG conversion plant to export Marcellus Shale gas by sea. The $1.9 billion conversion is the crown jewel to any deal for the urban utility, and the report’s positive conclusions are good news for the workers, unions, and suppliers who would gain from this new facility — one that could conceivably help Europe breaks its reliance on Russian gas, or end up traveling through the new Panama Canal to the Far East.
But all is not certain. PGW isn’t the only power company in the race to export the bounty of the Marcellus overseas. The Dominion Cove Point LNG plant received authorization from the Department of Energy in 2011 to export liquefied natural gas to countries that have free trade agreements with the U.S. In April, it filed an application with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to construct liquefaction facilities.
Sitting in the lower Chesapeake, Cove Point is a major competitive threat to rejuvenating the Philly Port and creating jobs here in the Delaware Valley. Cove Point is joined by other planned conversion plants. In fact, two of the approved applications to export natural gas submitted to the U.S. Energy Department were given the green light in the last couple of years. Cheniere Energy’s Sabine Pass facility in Louisiana was approved two years ago, and a Freeport LNG project based in Texas was given the thumbs up as recently as May.
The sale of PGW, along with its strategic Port Richmond facility, could very well improve our area’s ability to benefit from the vast opportunities presented by natural gas development here in Pennsylvania. The Marcellus represents an energy reserve with more BTU value than all the oil in Saudi Arabia, a boon to the Commonwealth, with echoes just now reverberating here in the Delaware Valley. The findings of this report, brought public by Inquirer reporting, is good news to all of us committed to bringing those benefits home to the Delaware Valley.