The investments of two major companies finally take shape as Jacksonville natural gas facility goes

By Jensen Werley - Reporter Jacksonville Business Journal  See Original Article

Four years after conversations started, there’s finally something to show for Eagle LNG’s natural gas investments in Jacksonville, with construction started on its Maxville LNG facility for Crowley Maritime Corp.

For Sean Lalani, president of Eagle LNG, it’s satisfying to walk around and see some of the hard work his company has put in come to fruition: Since at least 2012, the company has been involved in bringing natural gas to Jacksonville. Other projects in the works include an export facility off Heckscher Drive scheduled to break ground in 2018 and its Talleyrand bunker, which will break ground by the end of the year.

“It’s been about $100 million in investment from Eagle LNG for these Crowley projects,” Lalani said. “And it would not be possible without the collaboration of the community. There are so many parties involved, and the community has been so supportive. It’s been willing to understand and be educated on natural gas, and as developers, we just want people who are willing to learn.”

By next summer, the site will be up and running. This week, a vertical cold box 65 feet tall arrived at the facility — that box will be where the natural gas will be distilled, pressurized and liquefied.

The storage tank, which can hold about 1 million gallons of fuel, is partially complete. When it is finished in the second quarter of next year, it will also be 65 feet tall.

“By next summer, we’ll produce fuel-grade LNG,” Lalani said.

It’s all in time for the arrival of Crowley Maritime Corp.’s LNG-fueled container ships, the first of which will arrive in the third quarter of 2017. Between the investment in new ships, terminals and improvement to its Puerto Rico facilities, Crowley estimates about a $500 million investment to its conversion to natural gas.

For Crowley, the partnership with Eagle is critical to making its investment come full-circle.

“Eagle LNG completes the supply chain,” said Matt Jackson, vice president of LNG for Crowley. “This liquefaction plant will be a one-stop shop.”

Jackson added that Crowley was unique: not only would it be using natural gas, but given that Puerto Rico is a commonwealth of the United States, it would also be able to ship natural gas to the island in containers.

“We’re very excited to provide a start-of-the-art fuel to the people of Puerto Rico,” Jackson said. “And beyond that, we’re looking to take the lessons we have learned and provide services to those who want LNG and LNG assets.”

The construction site, done by Saulsbury Industries and Matrix Service Group (for the storage tank), will have up to 85 crew members from Saulsbury and 20 from Matrix. Lalani said the site will also provide about 20 direct jobs, including those that will operate the facility and equipment permanently.

“We’re excited it’s finally here,” Lalani said. “I spend a lot of time in Jacksonville, and it’s great to be able to touch and feel this facility.”