FLORIDA: Nopetro Energy Cancels Disputed LNG Export Facility

Port St. Joe

PORT ST. JOE, Florida, July 21, 2023 (ENS) – Nopetro Energy, the company planning to build a controversial containerized liquified natural gas export facility in Port St. Joe, Florida, says it will “no longer pursue the opportunity due to market conditions.”

The announcement this week is viewed as a victory by the citizens of Port St. Joe who worked to stop this project, The Gulf County Citizens Coalition For A Healthy Future.

And it’s also a victory for the Washington, DC-based NGO Public Citizen, which lobbied federal regulators, pursued legal action, and supported the efforts of local community activists to defeat the proposed terminal.

Located on the Gulf Coast of the Florida pnahandle, the Port of Port St. Joe is a deepwater seaport with a 1,900 inear foot bulkhead at the ship channel turning basin. Well-suited for bulk and cargo shipments, the port in this small beach town offers access to rail, the U.S. Gulf Intracoastal Waterway, state and U.S. highways.

As Nopetro planned it, the proposed facility would have been built on 60 acres in the heart of Port St. Joe on land owned by the St. Joe Company. Nopetro planned to purchase natural gas and bring it through two lateral pipelines from St. Joe Natural Gas, and operate three natural gas liquefaction trains to fill ISO shipping containers.

Trucks were to move those LNG-filled shipping containers 1,329 feet from the liquification trains to the newly constructed dock. The dock would have been owned an operated by the Port of Port St. Joe.
Nopetro planned to build and operate a crane at this dock to load the LNG containers on to marine cargo vessels, destined for export to Central America, South America and the Caribbean.

Since 2022, some of Port St. Joe’s 3,357 residents and Public Citizen have hosted three community meetings challenging the proposed project planned for the site of a shuttered paper mill in the largely Black neighborhood.

The company did not say the cancelation was in response to citizen objections to the facility based on fear of pollution and explosions. Instead, Nopetro said it determined that market conditions were inhospitable late last year.

Ed Hart, Nopetro’s senior vice president of supply, said in a statement, “In 2022, Nopetro Energy conducted due diligence on a site for a proposed natural gas plant in Port St. Joe. Many months ago, after completion of that process, Nopetro Energy decided to no longer pursue the opportunity, purely due to market conditions.”

Beginning in May 2021, Public Citizen urged the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, FERC, to reject Nopetro’s request to escape FERC oversight over the project and avoid comprehensive federal environmental impact review.

Nopetro argued that a 1,329 foot separation between the liquefaction terminal and shoreline made the facility exempt from FERC’s oversight.

FERC agreed with Nopetro, and Public Citizen is challenging FERC’s refusal to exercise authority in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit to ensure that Nopetro cannot take advantage of FERC’s decision in the future.

“Nopetro wanted to cut corners, and rush the project past the community with little to no notice,” Tyson Slocum, director of Public Citizen’s Energy Program, said.

“I was relieved to hear Nopetro decided not to pursue the construction of a liquified natural gas storage and export facility in Port St. Joe, Florida,” said Dannie Bolden, one of the leaders of the community’s opposition to the LNG project.

“The coalition took action and spoke loudly and with one voice, ‘Just Say No To Nopetro.’ We were successful, but we must remain steadfast to ensure there or no LNG facility constructed along Florida’s Panhandle,” Bolden said.

Slocum said, “Public Citizen has been privileged to work with so many dozens of incredible Port St. Joe residents who courageously took a stand for their community.”

Some of those who oppose the liquified natural gas export facility are: the North Port St Joe Project Area Coalition, Public Citizen, Earthjustice, RethinkEnergyFL, Earth Action, Food and Water Watch, As We Sow, Healthy Gulf and the ReGenesis Institute, and the Florida Center For Government Accountability in collaboration and partnership with numerous other climate change, environmental and social justice advocates and organizations.

Featured image: Site of the former St. Joe Paper Company Mill, the proposed location of Nopetro Energy’s Port St. Joe LNG facility, now canceled. (Photo courtesy Port St. Joe)

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