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Natural gas-fired power plant coming (video)

Oct. 24, 2012 at 5:24 a.m.
Updated Oct. 25, 2012 at 5:25 a.m.

Roy Hart, executive director of development for Sargas Texas, points out the future location of the Stargate Point Comfort power plant to Kim Hae Joon, left, and Joon Kan Kim, right, both of Daewoo Shipbuilding and Marine Engineering Co. during a tour Wednesday at the Port Authority in Point Comfort. Representatives from companies involved in the project climbed the retired ES Joslin Facility to get a better view of where the plant will be located.

POINT COMFORT - The group clambered up the metal stairs of the defunct ES Joslin power plant, and stepped out onto the roof.

Roy Hart, executive director of development for Sargas Texas, waved a hand to get everyone's attention.

"You see that out there?" he asked, pointing to an empty space of overgrown grass near the water's edge at the Calhoun Port Authority. "That's where the Stargate power plant will be."

The site is empty now, but in 2015, Sargas Texas will install a natural gas-fired power plant in that spot.

The Stargate 250 plant, once it is up and running, will be one of the first in a new generation of natural gas-fired power plants in the country where carbon dioxide emissions are captured and reused instead of being released, reducing emissions by 85 percent.

The plant will also bring 60 to 65 jobs to the county, Hart said.

About 50 people representing various companies involved in building the plant and county officials gathered at the Calhoun Port Authority on Wednesday afternoon to talk about the plant at a luncheon and view the site.

The new Stargate Point Comfort facility will produce 250 megawatts of power and produce "pipeline quality CO2" that will be good for enhanced oil recovery projects.

All of this will be powered by a natural gas-powered turbine, the LMS100 produced by General Electric.

GE has partnered with Sargas to create these power plants, which will be fired by natural gas and where the carbon dioxide emissions will be turned into liquid carbon dioxide that can be injected into oil wells to get them flowing again.

Dean Athans, GE general manager of the LMS100 turbines, said a natural gas-powered plant was just common sense in this day and age. Since hydraulic fracturing and slant drilling of shale plays in the past decade, there has been a glut of natural gas on the market.

The United States has become one of the biggest producers of natural gas in recent years, causing natural gas prices to stay relatively low, he said.

Natural gas also has less emissions than other forms of fuel, making it a better alternative, Athans said.

"It's plentiful, it's cheap and it's clean. This is a watershed moment," Athans said.

When they were choosing a site, Jim Burnette, a consultant with Texas Energy Development Services, said the Point Comfort location made sense because it was based on the Gulf coast and it was near various oil fields, including the booming Eagle Ford Shale play.

Burnette's company has worked with the Norwegian-based Sargas to build this power plant for the past six years, he said.

Burnette said the interest of port authority members was key in their choice of location.

"There are four ports along the Texas coast, but the port board members here are entrepreneurs, focused on doing what it takes to get industry into the region," he said.

The plant will be built in a shipyard in South Korea by Daewoo Shipbuilding and Marine Engineering Co. Ltd. The plant will then be moved more than 7,000 miles on a submersible barge to dock at the Calhoun Port Authority.

Once it arrives, water will be released from the barge hold, allowing the plant to rise up to the level of the water's edge. The plant will then be landlocked, Hart said.

Port officials had been working to get the plant built in their port for the past year, Calhoun Port Authority Director Charles Hausmann said.

Once it has been installed, the plant will hook up to the power grid through the ES Joslin facility, a power plant that closed in 2003 due to inefficiency.

Calhoun County Judge Mike Pfeifer was enthusiastic about the development.

"It's incredible. There are almost no emissions from this type of plant. I think it's going to bring a whole new aspect to power generation in this country and this area," Pfeifer said.



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