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Jordan Cove LNG Project Slowed, But Backers Undeterred

Despite regulatory delays, Calgary-based Veresen Inc. sees its vision for a liquefied natural gas (LNG) export project along the south-central coast of Oregon coming together, providing an outlet to Asian markets for western Canadian and U.S. Rockies natural gas, according to a presentation Wednesday at the TD Securities Calgary Energy Conference.

U.S. LNG exports are competitive in the current low oil price environment, according to Veresen's Elizabeth Spomer, CEO of the Jordan Cove LNG project at Coos Bay, OR. Even with FERC pushing back the completion of the environmental assessment of the project (see Daily GPIJune 12), Spomer touted various advantages for selling into the Asian markets from Jordan Cove, compared with U.S. Gulf Coast LNG projects.

Veresen executives confirmed that the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission delay has pushed back their decision on financing the $7 billion Jordan Cove project from late this year to mid-2016.

Globally, Spomer outlined a so-called consensus analysis projecting LNG trade worldwide to continue growing at about 5% annually. By 2025 that equates to new supplies beyond the liquefaction plants now under construction of about 21 Bcf/d, she said, attributing the estimate to the composite forecast of more than a half-dozen research firms.

Industry groups in the United States, such as the Center for LNG and America's Natural Gas Alliance, continue to urge Congress to streamline the LNG export permitting process, noting that global demand for gas is expected to grow from the current 37 Bcf/d level to 60 Bcf/d between 2020 and 2025.

Heading into the Calgary energy conference, Veresen CEO Don Althoff said that there continues to be strong buyer interest in the proposed Jordan Cove tolling facility for LNG exports, based on the project's "locational advantage, competitive cost structure and access to both western Canadian and U.S. Rockies gas supply basins.

"Veresen is taking advantage of the revised FERC schedule by continuing to optimize project costs and schedule, and value engineering opportunities, as well as leveraging the lower oil price environment and slowdown in global energy projects."

Spomer painted a global LNG picture with LNG from the proposed Oregon or British Columbia projects taking nine days for ocean tanker shipments to Asia, compared with 22 shipping days from the U.S. Gulf Coast. Australian LNG supplies require seven to nine days for shipping, she said.

Besides the geographic advantages, Jordan Cove also has two "large, distinct gas basins" (Canada and the Rockies), limited local competition for gas supplies and strong local and political support, Spomer said, although the project has encountered occasional opposition from local activist groups over the years.

Spomer cited other advantages for Jordan Cove as being its relatively advanced permitting/regulatory status, despite delays at FERC, and a "strong Houston-based project management team."

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