January 9, 2008 / 5:58 PM / 12 years ago

Boston offshore LNG port nears clearance to open

HOUSTON, Jan 9 (Reuters) - The U.S. Coast Guard expects to finish by the end of January preparations for start-up of Excelerate Energy’s offshore liquefied natural gas terminal near Boston, a Coast Guard official said Wednesday.

The agency and company were in final negotiations for approval of a security plan and operations manual for the Northeast Gateway LNG terminal, Lt. John Kousch of the Coast Guard said.

“We’re very close to coming to agreement,” Kousch said. He predicted completion of talks by the end of January.

Construction of the $300 million terminal, twin submergible buoys located in Massachusetts Bay 13 miles south of Gloucester and connected to a pipeline to shore, was finished late last year.

Start-up of Northeast Gateway is key to German utility RWE AG (RWEG.DE) buying 50 percent of privately held Excelerate, a source close to the talks said.

Closure of the RWE-Excelerate deal was expected as early as February, but RWE has asked that Northeast Gateway be operational before the sale can close, the source said.

Excelerate has operated a similar offshore LNG terminal in the Gulf of Mexico off Louisiana since 2005.

Suez SA LYOE.PA of France has announced plans to build a similar offshore LNG terminal off Boston, with construction starting this year and operations targeted for the end of 2009, Kousch said. (Reporting by Bruce Nichols; Editing by Walter Bagley)

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