AES Sparrows Point LNG Facility, Baltimore, Maryland, United States of America

AES Sparrows Point LNG plans to construct and operate a new LNG import and regasification facility at the Sparrows Point Industrial Complex near Baltimore in Maryland, US. AES Sparrows is owned by AES Corporation (headquarters in Arlington, Virginia).

The project design incorporates a marine receiving terminal with fully articulated unloading arms and cryogenic transfer piping, three full containment 160,000m3 storage tanks, a gas conditioning and send-out system, administrative and support buildings, and berthing facilities to support cargo offloading.

The integrated project also includes a closed-loop glycol vaporisation system to convert the LNG back into gas prior to its delivery into the national grid pipeline system. The facility's total vaporisation capacity has been designed at 1.5 billion cubic feet a day, with additional provisions for future expansion up to 2.25 billion cubic feet if required. The project requires an investment of $400m.

The project, however, has met with opposition from environmental groups due to its potential impact on the environment.

AES Sparrows Point connection

The new LNG facility will connect various interstate gas pipelines at a point near Eagle, Pennsylvania, via the Mid-Atlantic Express pipeline. The new Mid-Atlantic pipeline will be 88 miles long and will be routed along utility corridors to minimise disruption and allow an easier construction.

The new 28in-diameter interstate natural gas pipeline was designed to serve the increasing need for natural gas in the Mid-Atlantic and north-east regions of the US, including Maryland, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, the District of Columbia, northern parts of Virginia and southern New York.

Project details

The AES Sparrows LNG project is under development. The project was approved by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) in January 2009. The FERC approved the project with 169 mitigation conditions to reduce its environmental impact.

This could be as early as mid-2008 with a commercial operation date in late 2010. AES will source LNG from reputable international resources and will transport the LNG in specially designed vessels to supply the Mid-Atlantic region.

Construction

"The AES Sparrows LNG project will be located on an abandoned section of the Sparrows Point Shipyard."

The AES Sparrows LNG project will be located on an abandoned section of the Sparrows Point Shipyard, which is owned by Willis-Barletta Corp and previously by the Bethlehem Steel Corporation. The 80-acre project site is a parcel of land located between the existing graving dock (southern boundary) and Pier 3 (northern boundary).

The water’s edge is on the western boundary and the eastern boundary extends just beyond the existing fabrication building, up to and including Piers 1 and 2. The project site was previously used for shipbuilding and manufacturing steel.

To support berthing operations at the facility, the existing marine channel needs to be widened and deepened to about 44ft deep and 400ft wide. A turning basin will also be dredged to allow the ship to be turned under tug support and be berthed at the marine terminal in a bow-out direction.

The marine terminal is designed to berth and unload LNG tankers ranging in size from 127,500 to 217,000m3. The maximum length of the ships will be 1,000ft. The marine terminal will accommodate two vessels simultaneously, but the unloading and transfer equipment will be designed to restrict unloading to one vessel at a time. The schedule will accommodate two or three ships a week when the project is fully operational.

Unloading

When berthing, the LNG transporters will transfer their liquid product via three fully articulated 16in-diameter stainless-steel unloading arms sharing a 32in stainless-steel unloading header, which transfers the LNG to the storage tanks.
Boil-off gas is transferred back to the ship using vapour-return blowers that create suction in the tank vapour space and transfer the product through a fully articulated 16in-diameter vapour-return arm.

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