TD raises fracking concerns in Port of Cork's deal with US firm for LNG imports

The Port of Cork says there is "a lot of groundwork to complete" when it comes to finalising a deal to import gas through Cork harbour.

TD raises fracking concerns in Port of Cork's deal with US firm for LNG imports

The Port of Cork says there is "a lot of groundwork to complete" when it comes to finalising a deal to import gas through Cork harbour.

In 2017, the port signed a memorandum of understanding with US company Next Decade and its partners to explore a joint development opportunity for a new Floating Storage Regasification Unit (FSRU) and associated liquefied natural gas (LNG) import terminal infrastructure in Ireland.

The LNG would be sourced from Next Decade’s proposed Rio Grande LNG export facility at the Port of Brownsville in South Texas.

Announcing the deal in 2017, the Port of Cork said it would provide "a source of competitively-priced energy to Ireland and its partners".

Last week, the Government was accused of hypocrisy as it backed proposals for a Kerry-based Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) import terminal that would, if approved, facilitate the import of fracked gas from the United States.

It came just a short time after the country introduced a domestic ban on gas fracking.

Cork North-Central TD, Mick Barry, has raised further concerns about existing agreements, specifically raising the matter of the Port of Cork's deal with Next Decade.

The Solidarity TD said: "People in Cork have a particular interest in this issue. The privatised Port of Cork has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with a US company to explore the question of importation of LNG from the US to Cork.

This LNG would also include fracked gas, without a question or doubt.

"That fracked gas would come from the Rio Grande project in south Texas, near the Mexican border, which could be operational by 2023."

Responding to Mr Barry's criticism, a Port of Cork spokesman said there is still work to do regarding the agreement.

They said: "The Port of Cork Company is committed to working with Next Decade and its partners, who together have extensive experience developing global LNG projects and managing LNG vessels, to explore the possibility of developing FSRU infrastructure in Cork Harbour.

"As an entry point into the Irish energy market, Port of Cork is an attractive location for an FSRU-based LNG import terminal. Surrounded by existing marine infrastructure and industrial facilities, the proposed site is a short distance from the Gas Networks Ireland Grid and would benefit from relatively benign met ocean conditions.

"There is, of course, a lot of groundwork to complete and we look forward to widening our consultation on this project in the future in an appropriate manner."

Next Decade did not respond to a query from the Irish Examiner.

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