Oregon officials and news media were examining the viability of two remaining liquefied natural gas (LNG) receiving terminal projects following the bankruptcy of NorthernStar Natural Gas Corp. and its abandonment of the Bradwood Landing LNG project along the Columbia River (see NGI, May 10).
Based on news media reports, NorthernStar spent $100 million during the past six years on permitting for the Bradwood site, but company officials were unavailable to verify that estimate.
Officials connected with the two remaining projects have told local news media that they are undertaking the permitting process in a more austere and careful way than their NorthernStar counterparts. The remaining two projects are the Jordan Cove proposal along the Pacific Coast at Coos Bay on the south-central coast, and Oregon LNG, another proposal along the Columbia River, although closer to where in flows into the Pacific than was the Bradwood site.
In raising the question of what the NorthernStar project's demise means for the future LNG prospects in Oregon, a report in the Portland Oregonian newspaper said the economics of importing LNG are "looking bleak," citing the claims of NorthernStar officials who said potential LNG financial backers are more reluctant than they were a few years ago. In addition, the paper cited strong competition from North American gas supplies with proposed pipelines from Wyoming on the verge of final regulatory approvals.
Estimates of future LNG imports into the United States have continued to decline as production of domestic shale gas rapidly expands. There already is idle capacity in existing import facilities, including a West Coast terminal (see related stories).
The newspaper report cited industry sources as saying that NorthernStar's demise doesn't necessarily means that an LNG terminal isn't viable in Oregon, or that the permitting process is impossible to get through. "Rather, it may be that NorthernStar went about it in the wrong way, and ultimately sank its own ship. The fatal flaw for Bradwood may have been the Bradwood location itself. The problem was there from the get go," the Oregonian said.
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