Feds weigh safety matters

BROWNSVILLE — The U.S. Coast Guard says the Brownsville Ship Channel is capable of handling ship traffic related to Rio Grande LNG and Texas LNG, two of three liquefied natural gas export terminals proposed for the Port of Brownsville.

The plants would import natural gas via pipeline from the Eagle Ford Shale for liquefaction and shipment to foreign markets.

In letters to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, which has the final say on whether the projects proceed, the Coast Guard recommended that the ship channel be considered suitable in terms of navigation safety and security.

The Coast Guard said it made the recommendations after addressing public comments on security and safety but also potential environmental and economic impact, public outreach and the channel’s physical characteristics, and taking other maritime traffic — including from other LNG plants — into consideration.

The channel has a current depth of 42 feet, with Congressional authorization to deepen it to 52 feet.

Texas LNG says it anticipates next year receiving full FERC approval and making a final decision on whether to develop the project.

First-phase production of 2 million metric tons per year is expected to begin in 2023, according to the company.

Rio Grande LNG says it expects final authorization from FERC the second half of this year.