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Jordan Cove LNG Backers to Request FERC Rehearing

Calgary-based Veresen Inc. plans to ask FERC for a rehearing of its proposal to build a liquefied natural gas (LNG) export terminal and connecting transmission pipeline along the south-central coast of Oregon, which the Commission rejected earlier this month (see Daily GPI,March 14).

The filing is expected by April 11, a Veresen spokesperson told NGI on Wednesday.

On Tuesday Veresen announced its first commercial agreement with Japanese buyers for a quarter of the proposed output at the $7.5 billion terminal (see Daily GPIMarch 22). The agreement for the project, and plans for a companion 232-mile Pacific Connector pipeline, have prompted the filing for rehearing as opposed to filing a new application for the long-standing project.

Obtaining offtake agreements is critical to Jordan Cove's survival in a bid to be one of the first LNG export facilities on the West Coast of North America, and the first one on the U.S. West Coast, according to an analysis Wednesday by ClearView Energy Partners LLC analyst Christi Tezak. She earlier had suggested that Veresen needed to secure an offtake agreement rapidly.

"If Jordan Cove can present this agreement (and perhaps another commercial commitment) to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission in a request for rehearing of the certificate denial, the Commission may find it appropriate to reopen the existing proceeding instead of requiring Veresen to reapply," Tezak said.

Veresen’s spokeswoman said she could not comment about when another agreement might be announced but said the project team is "continuing negotiations with other strong LNG customers, and we will announce these agreements as they are finalized." She maintained that there was "strong interest" in the project and said the remaining 4.5 metric metric tons/year of LNG capacity would be sold.

Expected active opposition to the project, particularly the 36-inch diameter transmission pipeline, is expected to continue unabated, according to Tezak, who has noted that only 5% of the needed easements for the pipeline route have been obtained, and 59% of the proposed route requires the acquisition of newly created right-of-way.

"The characteristics of previously approved projects and the wording of the March 11 [FERC rejection] order suggests to us that Jordan Cove and Pacific Connector would face a high hurdle on land acquisition in the absence of eminent domain authority," Tezak said.

With the environmental impact statement still unresolved, it is expected that the opponents of the terminal and/pipeline may argue against eminent domain being used in a LNG export project.

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