While there continues to be uncertainty among more than a half-dozen proposed West Coast projects in British Columbia, the backers of two long-standing liquefied natural gas (LNG) export-import projects in Oregon told NGI Wednesday they are alive and well and several steps ahead of their competitors in western Canada.

Peter Hansen, CEO of Oregon LNG, the import-export project slated for the mouth of the Columbia River, told NGI he expects to submit a formal application to FERC in June for a permit to construct multi-billion-dollar facilities and a pipeline. Bob Braddock, the project head for Jordan Cove along the south-central coast at Coos Bay, OR, one-upped Hansen, saying his project will make its Federal Energy Regulatory Commission filing by Monday.

“We are still targeting for construction starting by the end of the third quarter next year,” said Braddock, noting that Jordan Cove has the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) license to export to free trade agreement (FTA) nations, but like a dozen other projects, it is awaiting the DOE approval for exporting to non-FTA nations.

Both project managers said the economics remain favorable for their projects, which were launched nearly a decade ago as LNG import projects (see Daily GPI, Oct. 27, 2010). “The economics are still excellent, and I think it is becoming apparent that the BC projects are very difficult, very expensive and probably also very slow to get off the ground,” Hansen said.

Braddock said some rumors he is picking up indicate as early as next week (May 20-24) there could be some initial DOE decisions announced on non-FTA export licenses, if the confirmation of the newly designated DOE Secretary Ernest Moniz is completed this week. “Everybody seems to think the confirmation is what has been holding up the [initial] export decisions,” he said.

On the prospects for Canadian export projects in BC, Braddock agrees with Hanson, adding that his Canadian sources think the proposed projects have “slipped well behind us” in Oregon because of pipeline and other issues tied up in the BC regulatory structure.

The other uncertainty is some proposed provincial taxation on LNG exports, which was proposed by BC Premier Christy Clark, who was just reelected in what was considered a major political upset in the province. Braddock said the tax proposal has injected a lack of clarity, and with Clark’s reelection on Tuesday it adds even more concerns.

Braddock and Hansen, however, have their own local and state political battles in Oregon, where Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR), the current chair of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, has been an outspoken critic of LNG exports, and Gov. John Kitzhaber has been supportive of natural gas but remains neutral on the LNG project proposals in his state.

Hansen said Oregon LNG is still contending with stiff political opposition on the Clatsop County elected commission, which he said alleges that it has the ultimate authority to stop the proposed projects that are otherwise permitted under the federal Natural Gas Act. “We disagree,” he said, adding that the Warrenton, OR, project is still battling over local permits.

Braddock said he has met with both Wyden and Kitzhaber and is encouraged by the positions both are taking toward the prospects of LNG exports from Oregon. Braddock said Wyden is aware of “positive local support” the Jordan Cove project is receiving and said the senator sees “exporting some amount of LNG as a good thing.”

To Braddock, Wyden is now in a position that is “very different from where he was in the past.” The governor is “all for natural gas,” but he won’t take a position regarding a specific export project. “He has told his agencies they are not to bias the processing of the LNG projects.”

Both projects are continuing to get support from their financial backers, although Jordan Cove’s parent company has changed its name and structure from Alberta-based Fort Chicago Energy Partners LP as a master limited partnership to Alberta-based Veresen Inc., a publicly held corporation.

Oregon LNG’s backers are a major publicly held funding partner, Leucadia National Corp., a New York City-based diversified holding company, along with Hansen, who began the now $1.3 billion project in 2004 as the head of western development for Calpine Corp.

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