A major gas supply project costing hundreds of millions of euro could be operational in Cork Harbour by the end of 2019.
An American company and the Port of Cork are to outline their plans to officials from the Departments of the Marine and Energy, Bord Gáis and representatives of local industries at a special meeting to be held on August 2.
The meeting, which will take place in the Port of Cork’s headquarters, will be attended by NextDecade chief executive officer Kathleen Eisbrenner and FLEX LNG chief executive officer Jonathan Cook.
NextDecade, a Texas-based energy producer, plans to supply liquid natural gas (LNG) to Ireland through a new import terminal named the Innisfree jetty which will be built at Whitegate, in Cork Harbour.
Flex LNG, which has offices in Bermuda and London, will supply the floating storage ship which will be stored at the jetty.
NextDecade said the development would provide competitively priced energy solutions to Ireland and its regional partners under long-term contracts.
Port of Cork commercial manager Michael McCarthy said the plan to create a major gas supply terminal in Cork Harbour will be a major boost for the region’s and country’s economy and secure an energy supply into the future.
He said that as the project moves on, the three parties will undertake pre-planning talks with Cork County Council and have discussions with local residents.
NextDecade has also revealed it is in discussions with European energy companies to enter into long-term purchase contracts for delivery of liquid natural gas at the Port of Cork.
The company will build the gas import terminal.
“Subject to planning permission being granted, there is no reason why the project couldn’t become operational by the end of 2019 or early 2020.”
It is proposed that NextDecade will ship in LNG into the Whitegate terminal and transfer it onto the floating storage unit.
It will then be turned into natural gas and pumped onto the main gas line from the Kinsale gas fields which run onshore in the Whitegate area.
The location for the project was key in the plans drawn up by the Port of Cork and the two companies, and not just because of the existing gas pipeline.
Cork Harbour supplies over 25% of Ireland’s energy demands and is home to 20% of Ireland’s generating capacity.
It’s also home to Ireland’s only oil refinery, operated by Canadian company Irving Oil in Whitegate.
Cork County Council has designated a 960-acre site at Whitegate for use for major energy related developments.
The Whitegate Power Station, owned and run by Bord Gáis Energy, is a gas-operated turbine plant.
Port of Cork chairman John Mullins said the project, allied to gas coming from the Corrib gas fields and what remains in the Kinsale gas fields, “would meet Ireland’s requirements for the next 25 years”.
“Therefore we wouldn’t be reliant on getting gas from Scotland. Clearly there can be implications with Brexit and we need to be thinking on our feet,” Mr Mullins said.
Large pharmachem companies and other big industries based around the harbour would benefit considerably from a competitively priced and reliable source of LNG power.
Large agri-businesses such as Dairygold are becoming increasingly reliant on LNG, which is a clean fuel.
There will also be a big spin-off for cruise liner business.
Capt McCarthy pointed out that nearly all the big cruise liner companies are ordering new ships which will be powered by LNG.
Disney Cruise Line, a unit of the US-based Walt Disney Company, has just ordered three 135,000 gross tonne ships powered by LNG at the Meyer Werft shipyard in Germany.
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