Port of Tacoma

LNG terminal at port on NW Seaport Alliance agenda

The Northwest Seaport Alliance could make a key vote Tuesday regarding infrastructure for a proposed liquefied natural gas plant operated by Puget Sound Energy.

At issue is a small strip of land leading from the 30-acre project across the peninsula to a proposed maritime dock on the Blair Waterway. PSE is asking for two easements: One to build a pipeline to transport the liquefied natural gas across the peninsula, and another for a loading platform on the Blair Waterway to fuel TOTE Maritime’s Alaska-bound cargo vessels.

Right now, TOTE uses bunker fuel (typical fuel oil) for those ships. But the company is switching two of its Alaska-bound vessels to cleaner-burning LNG. Those two ships — the MV Midnight Sun and the MV North Star — are scheduled for retrofits to LNG fuel this fall.

The switch from bunker fuel to natural gas has a number of air quality benefits. TOTE estimates the changeover will eliminate sulphur oxide emissions, reduce nitrogen oxide by 90 percent and reduce particulate matter by 91 percent.

Using LNG instead of bunker fuel also will cut carbon emissions by more than a third.

But before it can switch to LNG, its ships need a place to fuel. The company hopes to use fuel from Puget Sound Energy’s proposed LNG facility on the Tacoma Tideflats.

The seaport alliance is comprised of 10 commission members: Five each from the ports of Tacoma and Seattle. For the easements to be granted, a quorum of each port commission must approve them.

PSE spokesman Grant Ringel said the easement will allow the company to build a pipe underground to TOTE’s site on the Blair Waterway.

Filling out the rest of the meeting’s agenda are presentations by the Puget Sound Clean Air Agency, Environmental Protection Agency, Puget Sound Energy and the state Utilities and Transportation Commission.

The alliance’s meeting will be at 11:30 a.m. Tuesday in room 104 of the Fabulich Center, 3600 Port of Tacoma Road.

Kate Martin: 253-597-8542, @KateReports