Veteran Gas Project Developers Pushing Oregon LNG Project
A proposed liquefied natural gas (LNG) project emerging in its very early stages through the Oregon energy siting process is being backed by a private group of four natural gas industry veterans who expect to have a FERC application filed next year for a relatively small-scale $150 million receiving terminal and peaking generation plant at Coos Bay, OR.
The supply for the plant would only have to travel relatively short distances from northeastern Russia or Alaska. Gas volumes of 120-150 MMcf/d are envisioned, according to one of the proponents, Robert Braddock, who spoke with NGI on Friday.
This is not a "built-it-and-they-will-come" project, according to Braddock, who said that he and his partners (Geoffrey Mitchell, Tom Wilson and Elliot Trepper) are in discussions upstream with LNG sources in both Alaska and Russia (the latter, presumably Royal Dutch Shell), and downstream with Northwest Natural Gas and the interstate Northwest Pipeline on the takeaway from the proposed plant. And in the next two months, he expects a major national industry player will join the project.
He declined to name the companies in Alaska and Russia, and he said the primary driver for the plant along the southern Oregon coast comes from "commercial/residential" load growth throughout the Northwest, not industrial growth, although Coos Bay historically has been heavily industrialized.
"Transmission pipelines in the region are constrained, particularly west of the Cascade Mountains and south of Portland, OR," said Denver-based Braddock, a former Tosco Corp. engineer/manager, noting that Northwest Pipeline had an open season three years ago and most of the interest it drew was from proposed new gas-fired electric generation. Since that power plant development petered out, "no actual upgrade work was done," he said, and because of the poor regional economy, the pipelines have muddled through and bought some time as industrial load actually dropped.
If the FERC and state permitting go as planned, Braddock said construction for the project could begin by the last quarter of 2006, with a potential start up for LNG deliveries in late 2008 or early 2009. The potential LNG sources have indicated that the proposed project -- even with its relatively small volumes -- would be economic with the relative short oceanic transport from Alaska or far-eastern Russia.
While noting that environmental concerns will have to addressed along with a number of other issues, Braddock said, "certainly Coos County is serious about attracting heavy industry and there really are no other ports on the Oregon coast. And the county just built a (12-inch-diameter, 50-mile) natural gas pipeline that is just now going into service that ties Coos Bay to Williams' Northwest system." Eventually, the so-called Jordan Cove Energy Project would have to loop that pipeline to get supplies into the greater Northwest pipeline grid.
Jordan Cove is being looked at on a preliminary basis by Oregon's energy department's siting council, which will hold a hearing on the proposed project Jan. 19. Comments from the public are due by Feb. 10 to the Oregon Department of Energy, a department spokesperson said Wednesday.
Having filed a notice of intent to eventually make a formal application to the state, Energy Projects Development LLC is now subjected to a public information hearing that will be conducted by the state energy department next month at the Coos Bay city hall.
Although the proposal for which a notice of intent (NOI) was filed Nov. 19 is short on details, the proponents did specify they want to develop a 25 MW combined-cycle gas-fired generation plant adjacent to the LNG terminal. Heat from the electric generation process would be used to help re-gasify, or warm, the LNG that would be off-loaded into a storage tank onshore inside Coos Bay on what is called the "North Spit."
Copies of the NOI can be viewed at the state energy department office in Salem, OR., or at the Coos Bay Public Library, according to a notice on the state energy department's web site.