Byline: Nate Monroe
Another major player has emerged in Jacksonville's increasingly crowded natural gas market.
Sea Star Line, a JaxPort tenant, announced Thursday a joint venture between an Atlanta energy company and an energy-infrastructure firm will supply the liquefied natural gas that will power two state-of-the-art Sea Star cargo ships expected to come on line in late 2015 and early 2016.
It's a closely watched decision that will shake up the race to take the lead in Jacksonville's nascent natural-gas market.
TOTE Inc., Sea Star Line's parent company, has signed a letter of intent with Pivotal LNG, a subsidiary of Atlanta-based AGL Resources, and WesPac Midstream LLC, to provide fuel for the ships, which will travel between Jacksonville and Puerto Rico.
Pivotal and WesPac plan to work on a joint venture to construct an LNG plant in Jacksonville.
Annette Martinez, a Pivotal spokeswoman, said in an email that details on the LNG plant "are still currently being worked out and at this point it is still a little too early in the process to provide additional details about the future LNG facility."
"Pivotal LNG recognizes the importance of expanding the alternative fuels markets in areas like Jacksonville and we are looking forward to working with TOTE and WesPac on a future Jacksonville LNG facility," she said.
TOTE's decision comes as several players have jockeyed for position in the local market.
So far, most headlines have focused on LNG-related announcements by Clean Energy Fuels, a company co-founded by Texas billionaire T. Boone Pickens, and California-based Sempra U.S. Gas & Power.
Clean Energy announced in November that it plans to build a liquefied natural gas fueling terminal on Zoo Parkway in North Jacksonville that could produce up to 300,000 gallons of LNG per day. And last month, the company opened the first filling station for vehicles running on liquid natural gas on Lane Avenue west of downtown.
Sempra has been in talks with JEA to partner on several natural-gas initiatives, including the possible construction of an LNG facility on JEA-owned land near JaxPort. JEA and Sempra have agreed to invest up to $2.5 million during a due diligence phase to explore the economic feasibility of the partnership.
Clean Energy and Sempra have said they were in talks with potential customers, though details on those talks have been kept close and no contracts have been announced so far. …