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Oregon LNG, State Officials Agree on CO2 Mitigation Efforts

Oregon LNG announced last Monday it has signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the Oregon Department of Energy on plans for carbon emission mitigation, plant retirement and emergency preparedness at the proposed Warrenton, OR, liquefied natural gas (LNG) import site.

This makes Oregon LNG the second of the three proposed LNG projects in the state to sign a MOU with the state energy unit. Jordan Cove LNG project developers at Coos Bay, along the south-central Oregon coast, signed a similar MOU last March.

The MOU details specific steps the developers will take to mitigate carbon dioxide emissions, with Oregon LNG committed to using the most efficient commercially available vaporizer and heater design, the company said. In the MOU, the company agrees to go 17% beyond the best available technology -- either directly or through offset purchases.

In addition, the latest agreement provides Oregon LNG's assurance that adequate funds will be available to retire the plant and restore the project site with minimal impact to the environment when the project is no longer commercially operable. Finally, the MOU spells out the project's emergency preparedness.

Noting that the MOU is further evidence of the firm's willingness to cooperate with the state, Oregon LNG CEO Peter Hansen said the MOU was not required for the LNG project but is the "right thing to do. [It] puts our commitments in writing and makes them binding."

In commenting earlier this month on a tussle between the local port and state authorities over the LNG site lease, Hansen indicated that the MOU was close at hand, and a third LNG project's backers, NorthernStar Natural Gas, for the Bradwood Landing terminal, indicated they would like to sign a MOU also, but are not as far as long in the voluntary process.

Hansen said Oregon LNG tries to set itself apart from its rival projects by what he called "embracing Oregon values." An example, he said, was the selection of the site at the river's mouth so the LNG tankers would not have to go upriver, crossing under the Astoria-Megler Bridge and passing various urban waterfront areas.

"As a result Oregon LNG is the only one of the three projects in the state that has received local land-use approval and successfully completed all appeals," Hansen said.

Nevertheless, Oregon LNG remains in third place in terms of its Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) processing. The company said it anticipates a final FERC decision a year from now (mid-2010), with construction of the import facility and associated natural gas pipeline due late next year. Oregon LNG anticipates the plant start-up in 2014.

Both the Jordan Cove and Bradwood Landing projects have received conditioned favorable decisions from FERC. Oregon LNG expects its draft environmental impact statement to be issued by FERC in November this year, according to Mohammed Alrai, senior vice president, who said the company in the meantime will file the MOU with FERC for inclusion in its case.

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