Tuesday, 9 June 2020
Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport
Memoranda of Understanding
577. To ask the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the status of a memorandum of understanding signed between the Port of Cork and a company (details supplied) to develop Cork LNG specifically; if the memorandum is still operating; if his Department has had communication from the Port of Cork on this issue; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [10128/20]
At the outset, I wish to point out that this is a commercial operational matter for the Port of Cork Company.
I understand from the Port of Cork Company that they signed a Memorandum of Understanding with NextDecade in 2017 to attract new LNG business into Ireland from the USA. Next Decade is a Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) development company which is focused on LNG export projects.
Next Decade propose to import LNG through a FSRU (Floating Storage and Regasification Unit) which acts as a floating storage LNG terminal which will be moored permanently in the harbour. A new FRSU will most likely be commissioned and built for this purpose.
Next Decade and the POCC have had preliminary meetings with the relevant Departments and stakeholders. They have met with the Department of Communications, Climate Action and Environment (DCCAE) and Gas Networks Ireland (GNI). DCCAE and GNI indicated they are supportive of the project which will feed gas into the national pipeline located beside the proposed site of the new facility. This would give security of gas supply nationally into the long term and in the context of Brexit.
It is also planned that the FRSU facility would be able to provide an LNG refuelling and bunkering facility for ships at the Port of Cork, which would meet the requirement under the EC Alternative Fuels Directive for TEN-T ports. This facility would also be able to provide competitive bunkering to all Irish ports.
A feasibility study is currently being undertaken by Next Decade on where the vessel should be moored and environmental and regulatory matters are being examined. The site chosen will most likely be near the Whitegate refinery, with Bord Gais and the ESB facilities already located in the port. The development will be subject to all the normal planning requirements and compliance with all necessary consents. The proposed project falls under the remit of the Department of Communications, Climate Action and Environment.
I understand that the project has not progressed at the pace the Port of Cork Company originally envisaged. One of the factors for the delay is the worldwide economic climate and in particular the drop in oil prices internationally. The Port of Cork Company advise that the project remains at a very preliminary stage and the Memorandum of Understanding expires at the end of this year.