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Company to build $2 billion natural gas plant in Port Lavaca

By BY DIANNA WRAY - DWRAY@VICAD.COM
Oct. 25, 2012 at 5:25 a.m.
Updated Oct. 26, 2012 at 5:26 a.m.

Excelerate Energy is planning to build a natural gas terminal in Port Lavaca. It will be the first floating liquefaction export facility in the U.S.

For the second time in as many days, an energy company is planning to bring jobs to Calhoun County.

Excelerate Energy has announced it will build a liquefied natural gas terminal in Port Lavaca in its bid to become one of the first American energy companies to export natural gas.

The Houston-based company will be making a $2 billion investment to build the terminal at the Calhoun Port Authority.

"Port Lavaca provides us with the unique opportunity to further capitalize on our position as a market leader in floating LNG (liquefied natural gas) solutions," said Rob Bryngelson, Excelerate Energy president and CEO.

Excelerate hopes to use the terminal to ship natural gas around the world. The terminal will be a floating liquefaction export facility, capable of sending out natural gas around the globe by 2017, according to a release issued by the company.

The U.S. was a natural gas importer until the recent oil and gas boom, fueled by plays like the Eagle Ford Shale, flooded the market with natural gas. With a glut of natural gas keeping prices at rock bottom, the U.S. has gone from being dependent on natural gas imports to being a possible natural gas exporter, spurring companies such as Excelerate to explore selling gas in foreign markets.

The company is one of the first in the country to obtain a license to export liquefied natural gas.

This is the second time in two days an energy company has announced it is bringing jobs to the Crossroads.

Charles Hausmann, director of the Calhoun Port Authority, confirmed that Excelerate has optioned a property at the port.

Calhoun County Judge Mike Pfeifer said there is significant interest in developing in Calhoun County in the past few months because of its location and its industrial infrastructure.

"Calhoun County is open for business," Pfeifer said. "With the proximity to the Eagle Ford Shale, the deepwater port, the Port of Victoria and the barge canals, we're in a good spot and we're not as crowded as some of the bigger ports on the coast."

By locating their terminal in Port Lavaca, Excelerate will be near the Eagle Ford Shale play, giving the company access to production that is mostly known for producing oil but still pumps a quantity of natural gas.

Pending Federal Energy Regulatory Commission approval, the project will move forward in 2014, said Denise Madera, Excelerate communications director.

The company will bring about 2,500 construction jobs to Calhoun County when the terminal is being built and about 180 local jobs when it is operational, Madera said.

The terminal will be capable of storing 250,000 cubic meters of liquefied natural gas and designed to hook up to the onshore natural gas grid in Port Lavaca, according to the release.

Pfeifer said Calhoun is the county in the right place at the right time.

"If you look up and down the coast, the county's tax rate is about the cheapest there is and the commissioners court is ready to work with them in any way they can because creating jobs is what it's all about," Pfeifer said. "We're excited about this. The future of Calhoun County looks bright."

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