On 11 September 2001, just after United 93 hit the ground in Pennsylvania, Richard Clarke, US National Co-ordinator for Security, ordered the Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) terminal in Boston to close and for all LNG tankers to stand at least 100 miles off shore. As Clarke explained, ‘had one of the giant tankers blown up in the harbour it would have wiped out downtown Boston’.
A little over eleven years later a freezing mid-November morning finds me in Milford Haven, sandwiched between two LNG terminals. According to an incomplete 2002 Health and Safety Executive (HSE) report, standing where I am puts me at some risk of being ‘enveloped’ by a large, flammable gas cloud should there be an LNG shipping accident in the haven.
I now wish that I’d worn a tie with my paper-thin suit. I need to appear as sensible as possible as I am about to address His Excellency the Emir of Qatar, Hamid bin Khalifa Al Thani, Grand Croix de la Legion d’Honneur, Honorary Knight Grand Cross of the Order of St Michael and St George, and major investor in Pembrokeshire’s South Hook LNG terminal. It starts to rain. Luckily for him, the Emir is not present, but the Qatari film crew, here to record an interview, are getting wet…
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