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FERC Finishes Environmental Review of Gas Lateral to NW Port Site

FERC staff on Monday released a favorable environmental assessment (EA) for a proposed 3.1-mile, 320 MMcf/d pipeline lateral to serve one of three newly proposed methanol production facility port projects in the Pacific Northwest.

Williams Northwest Pipeline LLC's Kalama Lateral Project in Cowlitz County, WA, with appropriate mitigating measures would not "significantly affect the quality of the human environment," according to the staff EA at the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.

FERC has set a 30-day public comment period on the EA running through Aug. 12.

Northwest Pipeline last summer signed an agreement with NW Innovation Works, the prospective developer/operator of the billion-dollar Kalama Manufacturing & Marine Export Facility where the methanol would be produced. It would be located at the Port of Kalama in Cowlitz County in southwestern Washington state.

Kalama Lateral is proposed as a 24-inch diameter pipeline with a metering station within the boundaries of the methanol plant. The proposed interconnection location with Northwest's existing 30-inch diameter mainline will include one pig launcher for internal inspection purposes and one pig receiver at the end of the lateral at the meter station. There will be other safety and inspection equipment at the tie-in point, according to FERC's description.

Port Kalama is one of three proposed methanol plant sites in the region being targeted by the global multi-national partnership, NW Innovation, which has obtained a Tacoma, WA, port lease for developing a methanol plant for shipping its output to Asia (see Daily GPIMay 7, 2014). Similarly, it is also pursuing a site at Port Westward, OR, along with the Port Kalama project (see Daily GPI, Jan. 27, 2014). Each would contain $1.8 billion production facilities.

NW Innovation is a venture created by China-based Clean Energy Commercialization Co., in turn a partnership of BP and the Chinese Academy of Sciences, along with a Silicon Valley-based private equity investment firm, H&Q Asia Pacific.

The EA looked at the potential environmental effects of the construction and operation of the pipeline lateral in accordance with the requirements outlined in the National Environmental Policy Act.

Last January, NW Innovation moved its regional headquarters to Port Kalama, although it was not expecting to break ground until next year for its $1.8 billion facility. Last year the methanol producer obtained a 30-year lease with the port that provided it with 18 months to complete pre-construction engineering and other design work.

Last October, county and port officials agreed to pursue a joint local environmental review of the methanol production complex.

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