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U.S. Appeals Court Dismisses Challenge to Oregon LNG

A three-judge panel from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit on Tuesday dismissed an effort by Columbia Riverkeeper, an opponent of an Oregon liquefied natural gas (LNG) project, to delay permitting for the 1 Bcf/d export terminal in Warrenton, OR.

It was the second win in less than a week for Project Manager Peter Hansen, who hailed the court action, which found that the appellate body lacked jurisdiction regarding a U.S. Coast Guard letter of recommendation favoring the facility that was submitted to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.

Since the Coast Guard action was not a final determination granting or denying permission to Oregon LNG, the federal appellate court lacks jurisdiction, according to the unanimous opinion written by Judge Sandra Ikuta.

Tuesday's court action follows by a few days authorization for Oregon LNG from the U.S. Department of Energy to export LNG to non-free trade agreement (non-FTA) nations, joining a proposed LNG export terminal in Coos Bay, OR, in getting the authorization (see Daily GPI, July 31).

Contrary to competitors and skeptics who question whether Oregon can support two LNG export terminals, Hansen has maintained that building the supporting infrastructure and tapping the western Canadian and U.S. shale gas supplies will be a lot easier in the U.S. Pacific Northwest than in British Columbia (BC), which is entertaining a slew of LNG export facility proposals.

"There is no 'LNG War' ongoing, and as I repeatedly have stated in presentations at conferences, I wish [the competing Jordan Cove project] well because the progress of that project simply does not concern us," Hansen told NGI. "We have plenty left to do, and so does [Jordan Cove]."

The viability of multiple LNG projects in the state, according to Hansen, is strengthened by the fact that BC has vast amounts of gas that will remain stuck in the ground without export terminals and pipeline infrastructure getting built on both sides of the U.S.-Canada border. Right now, for various reasons, the permitting of the Canadian projects is not keeping up with the two Oregon projects.

Hansen is supporting a proposed expanded capacity pipeline project by Williams' Northwest Pipeline Co. from western Canada to a point in the state of Washington where Oregon LNG plans to run a 36-inch diameter pipeline from the Columbia River LNG plant to an existing north-south interstate pipeline carrying Canadian supplies to parts of the Northwest and California.

"I can assure you that if either project is willing to sign up for a new long-term transportation deal on expanded versions of existing interstate pipelines, Spectra, Williams, TransCanada and El Paso would be more than happy to build such expansions," said Hansen. The cost of the pipeline expansions would be "miniscule" compared with the costs of the proposed pipeline slated for BC to serve proposed West Coast LNG terminals from remotely located shale gas supply basins, he said.

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