May 26, 2018
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Gas company hopes to build in Searsport

Gabor Degre | BDN
Gabor Degre | BDN
A ship is guided into the Sprague Energy Terminal at Mack Point by tugboats off Searsport recently. (Bangor Daily News/Gabor Degre)
By Abigail Curtis, BDN Staff

SEARSPORT, Maine — A Denver-based natural gas company is applying for permits to build a marine propane terminal at Mack Point, an official with the firm said Tuesday.

“We’re very serious about this location,” said Jeff Hurteau, an assistant director at DCP Midstream. “It’s an ideal location along the coast. That part of the Maine coast fits our needs to supplement our existing network of terminals.”

In documents that have been distributed to Searsport town officials and residents, DCP Midstream explains that the proposed development would include a three-bay truck terminal facility with rail capacity. It would connect to Mack Point’s existing deep-water import dock that is owned and operated by Sprague Energy Corp. and would handle four to seven propane carriers annually. During the peak winter heating season, as many as 50 trucks a day could fill up at the facility to load propane and make deliveries, with fewer truck visits in the summer, according to the documents.

The company said it expects to receive up to seven ships a year, with a capacity ranging from 32,000 to 38,000 metric tons of propane.

Mack Point — located across from Sears Island — already is a fuel depot, where tankers deliver gasoline, diesel, heavy fuel, ethanol and coal, according to Searsport Town Manager James Gillway. As of now, there is no propane facility at the point, he said Monday.

DCP Midstream representatives first contacted municipal officials in early summer about the proposed terminal, he said.

Representatives of the company then held a public information meeting for residents on Dec. 14, Gillway said.

“We explained to them in the very beginning how important it was to lay all the cards on the table,” he said.

The Searsport Planning Board does not yet have a proposal from DCP Midstream, Gillway said.

The company has a presence in Maine, with rail propane terminals in Bangor and Auburn that are operated by Gas Supply Resources, DCP Midstream’s wholesale propane business segment.

Its closest marine terminal is in Providence, R.I.

According to the company, the proposed terminal will be a closed facility and odors wouldn’t be emitted, under normal operating conditions. It would be equipped with an emergency shutdown system, which would be activated either manually or automatically. In existing facilities, the company is able to secure a plant in less than 30 seconds, DCP Midstream’s informational documents say. The documents also state that propane import terminals have operated safely in the U.S. since 1971.

Hurteau said the company is in the process of applying for permits through the state Department of Environmental Protection, the Army Corps of Engineers and other agencies.

Although the number of expected full-time jobs is not yet final, he said, it likely will be between 15 and 20.

“I think the people are very interested in learning about the project and understanding the project,” he said. “That’s why we’re doing our very best to bring them as much information as we can.”

DCP Midstream is planning another presentation in Searsport that likely will be held in early January, he said.

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