A U.S. agency is looking into the impact that a failed rocket launch at billionaire Elon Musk’s SpaceX site in Texas may have on a set of natural gas export terminals developers want to build nearby.
The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission has asked the companies proposing to run liquefied natural gas plants along the coast of Texas to hire experts that can weigh in on how a failed rocket launch at the Space Exploration Technologies Corp. site near Boca Chica Village could affect LNG operations and shipping. They have 90 days to respond, letters filed by the commission show.
The federal inquiry follows a Sept. 1 fireball that destroyed one of SpaceX’s rockets on a launchpad in Cape Canaveral, Florida. The company’s working to send rockets to space from the same area along the Texas coast that LNG shippers are hoping to use to send shale gas overseas.
There are “possible siting concerns posed from potential failed rocket launches,” the energy regulatory commission said in letters to the developers Oct. 27. “We have determined that more information" is necessary, it said.
SpaceX said in an e-mailed statement that it appreciates the coordination between the Federal Aviation Administration and the energy commission “to protect public safety and resolve any issues related to the proximity” of the launch complex to other facilities.
LNG developers Texas LNG Brownsville, Annova LNG and Rio Grande LNG didn’t respond to requests for comment.