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LOGAN TWP., NJ-The London-based BP, this country’s biggest producer of natural gas, has four terminal facilities around the US, but they’re all owned by somebody else. Now, the company has proposed to build its own terminal in this Gloucester County community in South Jersey, a sprawling facility that will cost an estimated $500 million to complete.

The company’s announcement of its plans at the end of last week will set in motion a circuitous approval process that will begin with a formal application to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. The project also entails approvals at the community and state levels, as well as additional federal scrutiny from the Department of Transportation, the Coast Guard and the EPA.

BP officials expect the approval process to take “at least 18 months,” according to a spokesperson, who adds that construction isn’t likely to begin until at least three years from now. If that schedule holds up, the facility could be up and running by late 2008, according to the spokesperson.

The location is a 40-acre site within this community’s Delaware River waterfront Crown Landing tract. BP is also in the process of buying the entire 175 acres for future use, according to officials.

The facility would include a new pier for ships carrying liquefied natural gas, along with a trio of storage tanks and connections to an existing pipeline system, as well as to existing equipment that converts LNG into a usable product. Transporting natural gas in liquid form is safer and less expensive, according to officials.

The three tanks would be able to store upwards of 3.5 billion cf of LNG, with the primary source being the Caribbean, and the facility would be able to handle more than 1.2 billion cf of fuel a day. The facility would distribute to major markets in the Northeast, including the states of New Jersey, Pennsylvania, New York, Maryland and Delaware, according to BP officials.

“North American demand is up, but natural gas production is down, which has resulted in sharp rises in price,” according to the spokesperson. “We want to bring natural gas to a region that has growing demand.”

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