The project manager for the Jordan Cove liquefied natural gas (LNG) project along the south-central coast of Oregon told NGI late Monday that he was surprised by FERC’s move earlier in the day to vacate the project’s 2009 conditional approval to build an LNG import terminal and connecting 230-mile transmission pipeline (see Daily GPI, April 17). The project had expanded into a proposed import-export facility.
However, Bob Braddock, the vice president and project manager, said he understands that the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) was uncomfortable with having the import permits still alive when Jordan Cove’s sponsors had told regulators they had no intention of building the import facility before getting the necessary permits for exporting LNG. “We have told FERC that we would build an export facility [if approved] and allow for the capability to build an import facility in the future,” Braddock said.
In essence, Braddock said Jordan Cove did not mean to say it would never build an import facility in asking for pre-filing status (and getting it) to pursue a permit to build an export liquefaction facility. In taking its action, however, FERC said Jordan Cove had indicated “current market conditions” precluded it from building the import terminal (see Daily GPI, April 17).
“The subtlety is that we wanted to build an export terminal ASAP and retain the right to add import capability if the market shifted,” Braddock said. “FERC obviously didn’t want to have us in a position where we could be in an either/or situation.”
Longer term, if a market need for an import facility re-emerges, Jordan Cove’s backers may submit a new application for an LNG import facility, FERC said.
Braddock said he interpreted this to mean that “FERC doesn’t want to have the contingent import certificate hanging out there when we [Jordan backers] were very explicit in stating we had no near-term plans to build import facilities.” With the refiling for the export certificate, FERC had an opportunity to “clean up a lot of loose ends,” he said. “I think FERC has finally established some clarity in how they are going to handle projects such as ours.”
Braddock said he was unconcerned about having to go back through the full application process for both the export facilities, including the marine docking infrastructure, which won’t really change, and the Pacific Connector pipeline, including environmental impact statements (EIS) on all of the components. Just last month, Braddock had told NGI the environmental work on the docking facilities and the pipeline would not have to be redone (see Daily GPI, March 21).
Given the dropping of the conditional import facility permits, FERC likely will be preparing a more complex EIS rather than the simpler environmental assessment it had hoped to do, Braddock said. “I always expected it would be an EIS, but it doesn’t really matter to us as we had to do the same amount of work and the time was virtually identical.”
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