Two potential beneficiaries of relatively cheap North American natural gas supplies, Japan and India, reportedly both have been urging the Obama administration to open liquefied natural gas (LNG) exports as soon as possible, according to the project manager for one of the export terminal proposals.

In responding to questions about the status of his application at the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), Jordan Cove’s Bob Braddock told NGI Wednesday that he was aware that both Japan and India are pressing for a decision from the U.S. federal government that would allow LNG exports to their respective non-Free Trade Agreement (FTA) nations.

Earlier this year Japanese media reported that the country was appealing to the United States for LNG (see Daily GPI, Feb. 24).

DOE’s fossil energy office closed the record earlier in August for the proposed Jordan Cove import-export terminal and a connecting 230-mile transmission pipeline, Pacific Connector. While the record is officially closed, Braddock said under “extenuating circumstances,” DOE might take additional comments. However, he doesn’t think that will happen.

“I believe that we have heard from all of the major opponents,” said Braddock. He said most of the intervenors have been supportive of Jordan Cove, which morphed into an import-export facility last year after gaining conditional federal approvals as an import terminal (see Daily GPI, Nov. 14, 2011).

A local American Indian tribal chief testified that the project would be an economic engine for the region along Oregon’s south-central coast, which has been hard pressed economically for decades. He testified that the project could provide up to 900 jobs during the three-and-a-half years of construction, and another 800 jobs for the two-year building of the pipeline, along with the overall project’s 150 permanent new jobs.

Braddock said the opponents tend to be the same ones who have opposed any LNG project in the state, among them the Sierra Club, Columbia Riverkeeper and the American Public Gas Association (APGA).

The opposition, he said, is concentrated on alleged environmental problems — not economics — and the DOE process doesn’t deal with environmental issues as that is considered the role of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) in reviewing the building plans for the facilities. FERC is the agency responsible for enforcement of the National Environmental Policy Act, he said.

The public gas utilities and APGA have challenged Jordan Cove on more economic grounds, particularly lambasting a study that Navigant Consulting Inc. did for Braddock that concluded there would be little impact on the domestic U.S. gas market from the proposed exports. Oregon’s U.S. Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) is opposed to any LNG exports.

However, Braddock characterized Wyden’s stance as one of “having reservations rather than blatant opposition.” As such, he said once the current general election is behind everyone, the “merits of the U.S. exporting natural gas will have had time to sink in and [at that time] Sen. Wyden will moderate his current stance.”

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