ChevronTexaco Corp. on Thursday unveiled plans to build a $650-million natural gas terminal off the coast of Tijuana that could boost imports of the fuel to California and the West by the end of 2007.
The proposal follows an August announcement by the San Ramon, Calif.-based company that it was weighing possible offshore sites in California and Mexico for the plant, which will take shipments of liquefied natural gas, apply heat to turn it back into a gas and pipe it ashore for use by power plants, businesses and consumers.
ChevronTexaco, which needs permits and approval from Mexican authorities, said the terminal would sit about eight miles off the west coast of Baja California. It initially would produce about 700 million standard cubic feet of the re-gasified fuel but ultimately could process up to 1,400 million cubic feet of natural gas.
The company hopes to begin construction next year and have a functioning facility in the fourth quarter of 2007.
Although funding for and approval of such projects have not been easily secured in the past, warnings of record-low U.S. supplies of natural gas have spurred renewed interest from ChevronTexaco and other companies. Mitsubishi Corp. has proposed a liquefied natural gas terminal in Long Beach, and Sempra Energy has proposed a facility near Ensenada.
ChevronTexaco, which has been stepping up its investment in natural gas, recently signed a tentative agreement with an Australian venture to distribute at least 2 million metric tons, or 4.4 billion pounds, of liquefied natural gas to the West Coast over 20 years, beginning in 2008.