Japan’s electric utility joint venture and a major national energy buying force, JERA Co. Inc. weighed in at FERC Wednesday on behalf of the stalled Jordan Cove liquefied natural gas (LNG) export project in Oregon.

JERA’s president wrote to urge the top federal regulators to grant a rehearing on the project and allow the plans for the LNG facility and 232-mile connecting gas transmission pipeline, Pacific Connector, to move forward.

Just after the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission rejected the $7.5 billion project earlier this year because of a lack of supply contracts for the pipeline, JERA agreed to a preliminary 20-year agreement to purchase 1.5 million tonnes per annum (mtpa) of natural gas liquefaction capacity, or one-fourth of the 6 mtpa total capacity at the proposed export terminal in the international port of Coos Bay, OR (see Daily GPI, March 22; March 14) ).

Calling JERA the largest aggregate energy buyer in the world, David Ludlam, head of the West Slope Colorado Oil and Gas Association, said that “culturally this letter is a rarity and sheds light on the importance of West Coast LNG in the spirit of their national interest.” Ludlam’s member producers are strong supporters of Jordan Cove as a means to open their supplies to Asian markets.

Betsy Spomer, CEO of Jordan Cove, said it was rare for JERA to go public with its preliminary tolling agreement in March and rare to be publicly identified with the regulatory process. “I think we are the only supply project since they were formed in April of last year that they have allowed their name to be associated with,” Spomer told an investor audience in Toronto last week.

“Again, we request that FERC promptly grant rehearing and issue the requested authorizations in the referenced dockets to allow the project to move forward,” Yuji Kakimi, JERA president, wrote in concluding his letter to FERC Chairman Norman Bay.

Kakimi said that LNG imports are “a critical element of Japan’s energy mix,” and leading Japanese companies “have a long history of supporting LNG projects around the world, including new supply regions [such as North America].”

Ludlam praised the move by JERA, calling it “the first direct, overt and clear customer communication direct to the agency.”

A joint venture of TEPCO Fuel & Power Inc., a subsidiary of Tokyo Electric Power Co. Holdings Inc., and Chubu Electric Power Co. Inc., JERA was created last year to put in place what Kakimi called “a comprehensive alliance covering the entire energy supply chain from upstream investments and fuel procurement through to power generation [see Daily GPI, March 1].”

As such, JERA is now the world’s leading purchaser of LNG, Kakimi said in his letter to FERC.