The backers of two proposed liquefied natural gas (LNG) export-import projects in Oregon said their plans remain on track, putting them ahead of competition from proposed facilities on British Columbia's (BC) west coast. Jordan Cove LNG may file for federal approval this week.

Oregon LNG CEO Peter Hansen, who helms a proposed import-export project to be sited at the mouth of the Columbia River, told NGI last week he expects to submit a formal application to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission in June to construct the LNG facilities and a pipeline. Jordan Cove LNG chief Bob Braddock, whose project would be sited at Coos Bay, OR, said he expects to file for approval within days.

"We are still targeting for construction starting by the end of the third quarter next year," said Braddock. He accurately called out rumors last week that the Department of Energy (DOE) was about to make a decision on a non-FTA license, which on Friday was granted to Freeport LNG (see related story). He said everyone he had talked to had thought that the hold-up was confirmation by the Senate of new DOE chief Ernest Moniz (see related story).

According to Hansen and Braddock, the economics of both Oregon projects remains favorable (see NGI, May 17, 2010). "The economics are still excellent, and I think it is becoming apparent that the BC projects are very difficult, very expensive and probably also very slow to get off the ground," Hansen said.

Braddock agreed with Hanson that BC LNG projects might be low and said Canadian sources had told him that the proposed BC projects have "slipped well behind us" because of pipeline and other regulatory issues. BC Premier Christy Clark, reelected last week, is considering a plan to tax LNG exports (see related story).

The Oregon sponsors have local and state political battles as well. Oregon Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR), chair of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, has been a critic of LNG exports in the past. While Gov. John Kitzhaber has been supportive of natural gas, he has remained neutral about the export plans.

Oregon LNG also continues to contend with stiff political opposition from the Clatsop County elected commission, which Hansen said claims to have the ultimate authority to prevent the project from moving forward. "We disagree," he said. The Warrenton, OR, project also is still battling over local permits.

Braddock said he has met with Wyden and Kitzhaber and is encouraged by the positions they've taken to date. Wyden is aware of the "positive local support" the Jordan Cove project is receiving and said the senator sees "exporting some amount of LNG as a good thing." Wyden is now in a position that is "very different from where he was in the past." The governor, meanwhile, is "all for natural gas," but he won't take a position regarding a specific export project. "He has told his agencies they are not to bias the processing of the LNG projects."

Both projects are continuing to get support from their financial backers. Jordan Cove's parent company, formerly Alberta-based Fort Chicago Energy Partners LP -- a master limited partnership -- has restructured as publicly held Veresen Inc. Oregon LNG's backers include Hansen, who launched the initial project in 2004 for Calpine Corp., as well as New York city-based holding company Leucadia National Corp.

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