Every once in awhile, a story comes by that adds a light touch to the natural gas business. Since Cheniere Energy is working hard to generate income, we have another suggestion for adding to their bottomline -- the Sabine Pass Indoor Skiing Facility. Imagine being able to snow ski in south Louisiana. Does that sound unlikely? Architects are currently working with a Dutch company to build an indoor skiing facility in Barcelona, Spain. And, what do you think would be the key to making snow? That would be cold energy from liquefied natural gas (LNG). The idea of bringing snow skiing to warmer climes already has been realized at Ski Dubai, which is operated by Majid Al Futtaim Properties, in a very hot part of the world. Snow World, the Dutch company, operates two indoor skiing facilities in The Netherlands. About three years ago, it began looking for a site in Barcelona. B01 Arquitectes, Barcelona, believes in eco-friendly projects. The firm contacted Snow World and suggested a carbon-neutral facility. After all, Barcelona does have an LNG import terminal where lots of cold energy is released each time a shipment of LNG is regasified. The architecture company invited the Dutch firm to build the facility as part of a harbor project that is also included in an effort by Barcelona to turn the city into a green-power showcase. One facility in the city already burns plant trimmings and other natural wastes from the city’s parks to generate power. Now, the architects want to tap into the wasted cold energy of LNG. The skiing facility would cost about $55 million. Construction could begin as soon as 2015, or sooner if Ecoenergies Barcelona Sud and Dalkia can sign up enough cold-energy customers. The Japanese have been using cold energy from LNG for years to provide refrigeration for the fish processing industry as well as for other applications. Currently, the Barcelona LNG terminal uses seawater for heating up the LNG with the cold water returned to the Mediterranean Sea. Ecoenergies instead would use another fluid similar to antifreeze for heat transfer. The fluid would be piped to a nearby facility where the cold energy could be stored as ice for use by any customers needing air-conditioning or for other types of industrial processes. The cold energy could also run snow-making equipment for the indoor facility. And, the promoters have set their sights on the 2022 Winter Olympics. Barcelona is bidding to host those Olympics. The LNG could supply enough cold energy for a skating rink for the figure skating or ice hockey. You might as well set your sights high if you’re in the LNG business. That brings us back to south Louisiana. Snow skiing on the banks of the bayou has a certain ring to it. So, for a mere $55 million, Cheniere could turn its LNG facilities into a southern ski mecca. I know that Charif Souki, Cheniere’s chairman and chief executive officer, who has a good sense of humor by the way, would appreciate this latest suggestion for boosting the LNG business in the U.S. And, I would hope I get a season’s pass for sending along the idea. Contact the author, Scott Weeden, at sweeden@hartenergy.com.