The U.S. Coast Guard April 24 issued a form of a security clearance to the backers of a liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminal near the mouth of the Columbia River on the Skipanon Peninsula in Warrenton, OR. Oregon LNG's proposed $1.3 billion project would have a minimal security impact on the Columbia River, according to the Coast Guard's Letter of Recommendation (LOR), which is heavily qualified and similar to its determinations for the state's other proposed LNG projects.
Oregon LNG's assurance from the Coast Guard was one of three the federal agency released, informing the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) that all three proposed LNG terminals for Oregon have cleared the Coast Guard review at this point. Oregon LNG, of course, stressed only its project's review.
On both projects involving the Columbia River -- Warrenton and Bradwood Landing -- the Coast Guard made it clear that without the various "risk mitigation measures" developed by the project proponents, "the Columbia River would be considered unsuitable for the LNG marine traffic associated with the [two terminals proposed]." It further determined that due to what the federal Homeland Security unit called "the dynamic nature" of the river, the applicants "should be required to submit annual updates to the Waterway Suitability Assessment to the Coast Guard" for revalidation.
Security measures required by the Coast Guard will have "little or no impact" on the river users from the proposed LNG facility, an Oregon LNG spokesperson said. "In contrast, the Coast Guard has said it may require an elaborate and potentially highly intrusive full-time, all-weather camera and radar surveillance system for the entire transit route to a competing project [Bradwood Landing], which has been proposed for a location 38 miles up the Columbia River," the spokesperson said. A Portland, OR-based Bradwood spokesperson said his project's backers do not view the surveillance requirements for its ships as a problem.
Mohammed Alrai, one of the founders and senior executives at Oregon LNG, called the Coast Guard findings "a major milestone" as his company continues to push forward with the permitting process that it hopes to complete by early next year. Alrai also stressed that Oregon LNG is the only project to have gotten the Coast Guard approval to receive new 266,000-cubic-meter Q-Max Class Tankers for hauling its LNG supplies.
"We will be the only U.S. West Coast LNG receiving terminal with such an important designation," Alrai said.
Oregon LNG filed its application with FERC Oct. 10 last year, noting that it was staying on schedule and the extensive application demonstrated the project, originally conceived by a part of the independent power plant operator/developer Calpine Corp., was feasible and should be approved (see Daily GPI, Oct. 29, 2008).
FERC posted acceptance of the application Oct. 27, 2008, and the project already has completed local land-use approvals, according to Oregon LNG CEO Peter Hansen, who originally helped launch the Skipanon project at Calpine.
Oregon LNG is stressing its geographic location near the point on the Oregon side where the Columbia River meets the Pacific Ocean as allowing its project to have little impact on river traffic and operations. It allows the LNG tankers to have "short, low-congestion transit" to and from the receiving terminal, Oregon LNG said.
Hansen said his company's approach from the beginning of its plans has been to "do what's best for Oregon. We spent considerable time and resources in finding the project site that will have the least impact on river traffic and urban waterfronts."
The letters from the Coast Guard apply to the Jordan Cove LNG project along the Pacific Coast at Coos Bay, OR, in addition to the Oregon LNG and the NorthernStar Natural Gas Corp. Bradwood Landing projects. They basically say the projects are suitable for the waterways involved, given the implementation of various mitigation measures.
For Bradwood, the Coast Guard said, "the full implementation by the applicants' of measures outlined in their Waterway Suitability Assessment and a Waterway Suitability Report, [the Coast Guard has] determined that the Columbia River leading up to Bradwood Landing could be suitable for the type and frequency of LNG marine traffic associated with this project."
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