By Eamon Quinn
A unit of US equity fund Fortress has bought out the €1bn Shannon LNG terminal project located down the shore from the Tarbert ferry in Co Kerry.
The move signals that the long-delayed bridgehead for liquefied natural gas imports driven by the US into Europe will be completed. The project, which includes a terminal and a 26km pipeline at a cost of €500m, as well as 500MW gas power station, was first proposed 13 years ago. In recent years it faced a further delay over objections by the energy regulator.
Liquefied natural terminals in Europe to take gas from the US and the Middle East have for strategic geopolitical reasons been strongly supported by the US government.
Shannon LNG has now been bought by a unit of equity fund Fortress, New Fortress Energy, which is already involved in operating liquefied natural terminals around the world.
It has the backing of Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and Environment Minister Denis Naughten.
“The project involves a major investment and is expected to support 400 jobs at peak construction and 100 jobs when operational,” said Shannon LNG managing director Paddy Power in a statement.
The company provided no further financial details about the transaction.
Shannon LNG said “all the necessary planning and permitting approvals” were in place and the terminal “will connect Ireland to the global liquefied natural market and provide greater security of energy supply”.
“This project is critical for Ireland’s energy security and will benefit the environment and the economy,” said Wes Edens, the founder and chairman at New Fortress Energy.
“Ireland is at the forefront of the integration of natural gas and renewables and strategically positioned for the growing global liquefied natural market,” he said, adding it would help Ireland reduce carbon emissions.
The developers believe the Shannon LNG project will be “a major addition to Ireland’s energy infrastructure, and is expected to commence operations by the end of 2020. It will import natural gas in liquid form by ship and regasify it for supply into Ireland,” they said. New Fortress said it has the finances as part of the huge Fortress fund to develop large liquefied natural projects.
“As a commitment in the Programme for Partnership Government, the proposal by New Fortress Energy to progress the Shannon LNG project is very welcome. The development will provide a significant boost to the Shannon region and provide a foundation for further investment in the region,” said Mr Varadkar said