Today, The Boston Globe ran a great article about Boston’s two offshore LNG terminals, which are now sitting idle due to depressed natural gas prices. This is unfortunate, as the installation of these terminals caused some controversy amongst members of the fishing industry and represented a $750 million of investment. They are located in the middle of Massachusetts Bay, about 13 miles south of Gloucester, and Northeast of Boston Harbor.
More about the terminals in a minute: This is relevant to boaters in the Boston Harbor and Mass Bay areas as these terminals represent a dangerous obstacle to recreational boaters, especially in fog or low visibility situations. Fortunately, the area is remote and is very well marked by buoys and patrol boats, as federal law keeps this area off limits to other vessels. You may be within visual distance of these terminals when heading to fish out in Stellwagen Bank, and the large tankers which tie up here are visible from shore on a clear day.
The location of the terminals in Massachusetts Bay and the restricted area around them is marked by the purple circles on the center right of the clip below:
The view of the area up closer:
Note: Both chart clips above are from NOAA Nautical Charts. Not for official navigational purposes. See NOAA.gov for official disclaimer.
The two LNG terminals are the Northeast Gateway and Neptune terminals. Completed in 2008, the terminals were built with the expectation of increasing future import demand for natural gas. However, with the great amount of natural gas having been subsequently found onshore in the US in recent years, importation has become less economic, and therefore these ports are not being used. Ships can still be regularly seen docking in this area, as seen in the photo below (which was taken from shore):