Engineer’s rendering of what the Dominion Cove Point LNG Plant will look like when export project is completed.

Lusby, MD – The State of Maryland’s largest construction project continues to significantly change the look of a gas plant on the shores of the Chesapeake Bay. Once the massive $3.8 billion build is completed Dominion Cove Point Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) Plant in Lusby will possess the capability to export natural gas to foreign countries. The project began in late 2014 and has reached its halfway mark.

On Wednesday, April 6, Dominion officials gave members of the media an update on the project plus a tour of the construction site and the large offsite location located less than a mile from the plant.

Company officials stressed that despite the potential hazards posed by the large equipment and components of the liquefaction unit and its ancillary facilities, the project’s safety record has been well above the standards set by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).

“This project has a strong safety program,” said Dominion Vice President of Construction Bob McKinley, who noted a few workers have experienced cut arms, sprained ankles and even a bee sting. McKinley reported that OSHA’s recordable incident rate for the Cove Point project is 0.57, well below the average rate of 3.7 for a comparable project.

McKinley reported that over 60 of the nearly 80 “heavy hauls” of large project components have been completed and company officials have received “almost no complaints” about adverse impacts on traffic. The large project segments have been sent to Calvert County by barge to a pier on the Patuxent River in Solomons and are subsequently hauled by large trucks to the plant.

Dominion Cove Point’s Vice President of LNG Operations Mike Frederick recently reported that work crews were transitioning from underground work and pouring concrete foundations to installing structures and heavy equipment. The facilities massive sound wall is also close to completion. This spring the project will reach its peak with approximately 1,600 laborers on site working staggered shifts. Dominion officials reported approximately 35 percent of the workforce will be comprised of Southern Maryland residents.

A network of cameras is monitoring the site work.

McKinley said the materials being used to construct the equipment needed for LNG exportation include about 80 miles of pipe and 800 miles of wire and cable. Frederick said in addition to the equipment needed for liquefaction, components that are being installed include devices for safely removing substances such as mercury, carbon dioxide, acids and heavy hydrocarbons.

The offsite area is 97 acres. Laborers arrive at this area prior to shifts and are then bused to the work site. Several temporary buildings are located on the parcel, which is serviced by public water and sewer. Construction materials are also kept at the location. When the project is completed, the area will be given back to Calvert County for likely development.

Regarding issues related to the project:
Security and safety – Frederick said the federal scrutiny of LNG plants has never diminished since the Department of Homeland Security came into existence nearly 15 years ago. He added that an emergency bypass road is being built to provide an alternative for residents living east of the plant should there be a need to evacuate the area.
Economy and jobs – Frederick indicated that the 20-year contracts the company has with companies in India and Japan protect the Cove Point project from any unforeseen market volatility. He added that the plant is still handling LNG imports. Of the upward revision of permanent plant employees once the project is completed at the liquefaction facility is in operation, Frederick said that was done when company officials determined they needed additional personnel for the plant’s operation and to meeting inspection requirements.
Project opponents – “Most energy infrastructure is going to get some opposition,” said Frederick. He noted that currently, “traffic on Cove Point Road is about the biggest complaint” and the company is presently “minimizing it [traffic].”

Contact Marty Madden at marty.madden@thebaynet.com