Betchel signs on to engineer first U.S.-based floating LNG vessel

Sabine Pass Dinner Cruise attendee snaps photos of the Golden Pass LNG storage tanks and cargo transfer arms, Wednesday, Dec. 11, 2013, in Sabine Pass, TX. ( Marie D. De Jesus / Houston Chronicle )
Sabine Pass Dinner Cruise attendee snaps photos of the Golden Pass LNG storage tanks and cargo transfer arms, Wednesday, Dec. 11, 2013, in Sabine Pass, TX. ( Marie D. De Jesus / Houston Chronicle )

The first U.S.-based floating liquefied natural gas vessel moved closer to reality after San Francisco-based engineering giant Bechtel agreed to design and engineer the project once a final investment decision is reached.

The vessel is slated to go into service at Port Delfin. The proposed deepwater port and floating liquefied natural gas facility to be located about 50 miles off the coast of Cameron Parish, Louisiana. would be the first such facility to operate off the coast of North America. Delfin LNG says its floating design will reduce coastal carrier traffic and minimizes the environmental effects on delicate habitats along coastlines.

According to project plans, natural gas would be transported from existing pipeline infrastructure in to four floating vessels moored in the Gulf of Mexico. The deepwater port is expected to be able to export 9.2 million metric tons per year of LNG.

Delfin LNG is seeking approval to build, own and operate the deepwater port from regulators at the United States Maritime Administration and the U.S. Coast Guard. The company is jointly developing the project with Höegh LNG, a leading owner and operator of floating LNG import terminals and floating storage and regasification units, and Canadian pipeline company Enbridge.

Delfin LNG would be the latest in a string of liquefaction projects for Bechtel, which is involved in about one-third of the world’s liquefaction projects under construction, including four Australian proejcts and Cheniere Energy’s Sabine Pass LNG terminal.

“We bring extensive engineering, procurement, construction and commissioning expertise in the LNG and offshore industries to the exciting new market of floating LNG facilities,” Jack Futcher, president of Bechtel’s Oil, Gas and Chemicals business unit in Houston said in a statement.

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