Nearly three years to the day after giving final authorization for the project, FERC has granted Northwest Pipeline LLC an additional year to complete construction of a short natural gas pipeline lateral to serve a proposed methanol production facility in the Pacific Northwest.

The Williams subsidiary has proposed building the Kalama Lateral Project, which includes a 3.1-mile, 24-inch diameter pipeline that would extend from its existing 30-inch diameter mainline to a delivery meter station and related facilities in Cowlitz County, WA. The pipeline lateral would enable Northwest to provide up to 320,000 Dth/d of firm transportation service to the NW Innovation Works (NWIW) proposed methanol plant at the Port of Kalama.

In a letter order Wednesday, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission granted a request to extend the time to complete the project to April 11, 2020 [CP15-8].

According to FERC records, Northwest said the start of construction for the Kalama Lateral is linked to NWIW receiving the necessary permits for the $1.8 billion methanol plant. Northwest told the Commission that it doesn't expect to begin construction before 2Q2020 because of an ongoing supplemental environmental impact statement process and finalization of the necessary permits and authorizations for the plant.

Cowlitz County officials had urged the Commission to deny the time extension in part because NWIW did not have the necessary permits. The county also asked FERC to revoke Northwest’s certificate order for the lateral because of the project's impacts to the Mount Pleasant Cemetery. The cemetery was added to the Washington Heritage Register after the original order was issued in April 2016.

"At this point in this proceeding the delay in the permitting of the NWIW facility and the subsequent delay in the construction of the Kalama Lateral is not sufficient reason for Northwest's certificate to be revoked nor to deny a reasonable extension of time to allow local actions to proceed," wrote FERC pipeline certification chief Richard Foley. "Further, the current records in this proceeding as detailed in Northwest's proposal for the route of the Kalama Lateral to avoid impacts to the cemetery and the discussion of the cemetery in the Commission's environmental assessment serves to protect the sensitive historical nature of the cemetery."

NWIW has also proposed building a $1.8 billion methanol plant at Port Westward, OR. NWIW is a joint venture of China-based Clean Energy Commercialization Co., a partnership between BP plc, the Chinese Academy of Sciences and private equity firm H&Q Asia Pacific.