New Plant Could Be Coming To the Twin Ports

Posted at: 05/21/2013 4:12 PM
Updated at: 05/21/2013 10:48 PM
By: Laurie Stribling

A liquefied natural gas plant could be coming to the Twin Ports, but there's research and work that needs to be done first.

Experts at a meeting Tuesday said liquefied natural gas, or LNG, would work well with industries already set up in the Twin Ports. They said LNG is a clean, low-cost alternative for companies doing heavy transportation, like shipping and railroads.

"If you look at the propane industry in its early days, it took a little while for people to become comfortable with propane," Plum Energy CEO Kirt Montague said. "Now, it's everywhere. I see natural gas doing exactly the same thing."

Montague was one expert who spoke with Twin Ports businesses Tuesday about the advantages of LNG. He said this area is a perfect place for a plant.

"With your shipping, with all the mining industry here," Montague said. "Duluth is one of the hot spots, I think, in the United States for the development of LNG no question about it."

Before a plant can be built, the demand needs to be established, and that's why experts were in town. Several businesses said they think LNG would be a good change from diesel.

"It's plentiful," Fraser Shipyards Operations Director Tom Curelli said. "It's relatively low cost."

Curelli said he thinks his company will embrace the change, it's just a matter of when.

"It's going to happen," Curelli said. "It's going to take time and we just want to make sure we're aware of everything, and all the opportunities out there."

Businesses would have to make expensive conversions in order to use LNG. Planning for a LNG plant in the Twin Ports is just in the beginning stages.

Experts said people who don't know about LNG have a perception that it's more dangerous, but they said Tuesday it has a lengthy safety record since its start.