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Date of Issue: November 18, 2009

Maritime administrator approves port license

The U.S. Maritime Administration has approved a license for a deepwater port and natural gas pipeline in the Anna Maria Island area.

Port Dolphin Energy LLC requested the license to construct and operate the port, which will be built about 28 miles west of Anna Maria Island, and the pipeline, which will traverse the bottom of Tampa Bay and connect with onshore lines at Port Manatee.

Acting Maritime Administrator David T. Matsuda approved the license following a review of Port Dolphin’s application and the receipt of endorsements from Florida Gov. Charlie Crist, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

“I have decided to issue a license to Port Dolphin Energy as it meets the basic criteria … but only subject to certain conditions designed to protect and advance the national interest, the demonstration of financial capability and conditions to preserve and enhance the environment,” Matsuda wrote in his decision.

Matsuda said Port Dolphin must develop an operations manual, submit additional technical information and detailed drawings and obtain federal and state permits.

Additionally, Matsuda said the company must comply with a series of conditions proposed by Crist in September, including dealing with the project’s impact on beach-quality sand intended for beach renourishment projects.

The port — estimated to cost $254 million — will be built in federal waters on the Outer Continental Shelf in the Gulf of Mexico waters about 100 feet deep. Vessels would anchor next to buoys at the deepwater port, where liquefied natural gas would be converted into gas and fed into the pipeline.

A ship would anchor at the port for up to eight days and, according to the Transportation Department, when ships are not at the site, the port would be submerged on a landing pad on the seabed.

According to Transportation, there are four more deepwater port license applications under review.