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Can Oregon Support Two LNG Export Terminals?

British Columbia has multiple liquefied natural gas (LNG) export facilities being proposed for Canada's west coast, and supporters believe that several might make the cut, but the two proposed export projects on the drawing board in Oregon are drawing questions, with some wondering if even one can become reality.

Oregon LNG's Project Manager Peter Hansen told NGI he thinks there is room for both, although he sees his project slated for the mouth of the Columbia River as having several advantages. Jordan Cove LNG's Project Manager Bob Braddock thinks that at most one LNG project will be built in the state.

"I have always stated that the solution to an LNG facility in the U.S. Pacific Northwest is either zero or one," Braddock said. "I don't think the grid will support two export terminals without significant infrastructure additions."

Hansen said "there is plenty of gas and LNG market for both projects," but he doesn't have any doubt that Oregon LNG would beat Jordan Cove on points. Oregon LNG has a shorter pipeline connection to existing interstate transmission pipelines, but it also is facing significant local opposition, including county officials that are balking at a land-use permit for the pipeline (see Daily GPI, Oct. 15). Jordan Cove has a longer, more complicated connecting pipeline and potentially major environmental issues along the way.

"We do not expect the Jordan Cove project to actually get permitted," said Hansen. "The Jordan Cove Project has very real environmental problems, such as the northern spotted owl [NSO], and Oregon LNG's process-oriented problems eventually will be resolved while the environmental problems are not likely to go away."

Braddock said any pipeline proposing to cross the Cascade Mountains, as Jordan Cove's does, must deal with NSO and Marbled Murrelet species protection issues. "We believe we have satisfactorily addressed these issues so that we will secure a positive biological opinion from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the National Marine Fisheries Service," he said.

Braddock added that he doesn't expect to get a final resolution on the biological opinion until the early part of the second half of 2014, after a final environmental impact statement is issued by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC).

Both projects are awaiting FERC approvals, and the project managers hope to begin construction before the end of next year (see Daily GPI, May 20). Even if both projects are approved by FERC, Hansen thinks Oregon LNG will have cost-competitive advantages over Jordan Cove, such as the shorter connecting pipelines and access to less expensive onsite electric power. Jordan Cove, he pointed out, has to build a gas-fired power plant adjacent to its site along the south-central Oregon coast at Coos Bay.

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