Calais LNG gets more time, again, to raise cash

Posted Sept. 17, 2010, at 12:32 a.m.

AUGUSTA, Maine — The chairman of the Maine Bureau of Environmental Protection board has granted another extension to Calais LNG, giving the cash-strapped company until Dec. 1 to file its completed application to build an up to $1 billion liquefied natural gas facility at Red Beach in Calais.

“In light of the significance of this project in terms of scope, complexity and cost, as well as the time spent and expenses incurred by the parties and the department thus far in the processing of the pending application, it is reasonable to allow the applicant the requested time to complete re-financing negotiations,” Chairman Susan Lessard wrote Thursday to CLNG’s attorney, David Van Slyke of Portland.

CLNG project manager Art Gelber, based in Houston, was traveling Thursday and couldn’t be reached for comment.

Van Slyke also did not return a call for more information.

The decision released at about 4 p.m. Thursday comes after a daylong conference held Wednesday between members of the BEP and representatives for CLNG. Also attending that conference were representatives of the Roosevelt Campobello International Park commissioner, Maine Workers for a Healthier Environment, Industrial Energy Consumer Group, the Maine State Chamber of Commerce and Downeast LNG.

Attending by conference call were representatives of the Sierra Club, the National Park Service, Professional Mariners, the city of Calais, and Citizens for Clean and Secure Energy.

Lessard noted in her letter that when CLNG officials requested another extension on Monday, they indicated that they were working with two separate entities to secure financing.

But she also indicated that some of the concerns expressed about granting an extension were that further postponement of the hearing would affect the availability of witnesses, the possible need to amend previously filed testimony, and the possibility that parties will need to retain additional or alternative witnesses to respond to new application materials.

Opponents to the extension also expressed concern that they might not have adequate time to review and respond to CLNG’s final application, Lessard said.

She also said project supporters stressed its importance to the state and the complexity of negotiating financial backing for such a large-scale project.

In her letter, Lessard required that CLNG keep the BEP board notified as soon as it secures new financing or if financing efforts are suspended. She also guaranteed that once the completed application is submitted, all parties will be given adequate time for review before a public hearing.

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