Hawaii Gas Applies For Permit To Import LNG

A Hawaii-based utility is applying for a federal permit to import liquefied natural gas. It’s unlikely to encourage development in Alaska anytime soon.

Hawaii Gas submitted its application to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission last week. Hawaii has a law requiring at least 40 percent of its energy come from renewable sources by 2030 and it sees natural gas as a bridge to get there.

“I gotta figure if it’s being shipped out of California, the gas is coming from the Lower 48 somewhere,” Larry Persily, Federal Coordinator for the Alaska Natural Gas Transportation Projects, said.

That’s a federal agency that oversees how natural gas will be shipped around the state. Persily says Hawaii Gas’s application does not specify where the gas will be sourced from, but it will set sail from the port of Long Beach.

That port is ready for vessels with 40-foot tanks filled with natural gas. The application, Persily says, indicates the first phase of the project is quite small, and the gas could come from tiny operators that can truck the LNG to the port in Southern California.

“Getting these small shipments from Alaska is not feasible, not an issue, never under consideration,” Persily said.

The project will not increase demand for Alaska’s natural gas just yet. But the application says that in the project’s final stage, LNG could come from multiple sources requiring large receiving terminals.

That could be good for Alaska. Until then, Persily says the project could increase the public perception of natural gas, and that could eventually benefit the state, too.

A representative from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission says the agency will open the first comment period on the project as early as this week, but a ruling won’t come for at least a year.