The chances of an Oregon liquefied natural gas (LNG) facility being constructed remain about 50-50, with the crucial indicator coming early next year, said Portland, OR-based Northwest Natural Gas Co. CEO Gregg Kantor

Not much has changed on LNG developments in recent months, Kantor said during a conference call to discuss second quarter earnings.

Northwest Natural has a joint venture with TransCanada to build the 220-mile, 36-inch diameter Palomar Pipeline out of Western Canada, which potentially can interconnect with a LNG terminal along the Columbia River where several projects are proposed. As growth in its core utility business slowed in recent years, Northwest Natural has made no secret of the fact it is looking for related nonutility projects to supplement earnings (see Daily GPI, Feb. 15, 2008).

NorthernStar Natural Gas Corp.’s Bradwood Landing LNG project along the Columbia holds a heavily conditioned approval from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) and is awaiting final state and local approvals. (Two other Oregon LNG projects are seeking FERC’s OK.)

“I continue to rate it as a 50-50 proposition, and I probably won’t change from that for awhile,” Kantor told financial analysts. “The real milestone that everyone ought to look toward is whether Bradwood Landing gets any of the state permits.”

Based on recent discussions he has had with NorthernStar executives, Kantor said the project developers “are hoping to see something early next year, and I think that’s when we will be able to adjust that 50-50.”

Northwest Natural is “executing well” on all of its new business projects, said Kantor, and like related natural gas storage projects, the pipeline is on track, paralleling the separate LNG project developments.

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