Proponents of a liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminal near the mouth of the Columbia River at Warrenton, OR, received a local land-use approval last Monday for a connecting transmission pipeline intended to link the terminal to interstate pipelines and the greater Portland, OR market. Oregon LNG CEO Peter Hansen called the Clatsop County decision critical for the LNG project.
Nevertheless, there is still another local pipeline land-use approval needed from Tillamook County and a plant land-use permit from the city of Warrenton for which the LNG proponents have yet to submit an application. More immediate are the pending federal actions.
Following the abandonment of the competing Bradwood Landing project earlier this year as its Texas-based backers filed for bankruptcy, Oregon LNG and a third terminal proponent, Jordan Cove, to be sited along the Pacific Coast at Coos Bay, OR, have been moving along in recent months under the radar while natural gas and other energy forecasts for the Pacific Northwest have begun to downplay the possibility of LNG imports.
County planners had recommended denial of the pipeline permit in June, citing insufficient information from Oregon LNG. Planning staff alleged that the impacts on the Columbia River estuary over which the 36-inch-diameter pipeline would cross were not sufficiently analyzed. The county also concluded that the proposed project was not in compliance with several goals laid out in a planning staff report, such as completion of a geotechnical report.
Eventually the county recommended conditional approval for some portion of the application and the hearing officer’s approval applies those conditions.
What was approved with conditions was Oregon LNG’s proposed natural gas pipeline running through Clatsop County. Planners, county elected officials and Hansen all said project opponents are likely to appeal the approval of the project by Oregon Pipeline LLC, an Oregon LNG unit. Despite the staff recommendation for denial of the pipeline application, under the county process the hearing officer had the final say on land-use permits. Any initial appeal at the county level must be made by Friday (Sept. 3).
In the meantime, Hansen said Oregon LNG is expecting FERC biological assessment within the next month, and a draft environmental impact statement from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission in October or November.
In addition to its proposed receiving terminal at Warrenton, Oregon LNG has proposed a 122-mile, 36-inch diameter transmission pipeline running southeasterly into the Portland area with a 10-mile, 24-inch-diameter pipeline lateral connecting to the Northwest Natural Gas distribution backbone system and the Mist gas storage field.
Hansen said the Oregon LNG has not signed leases with any of the landowners, although it has obtained access agreements for about 70% of the pipeline route to complete environmental and cultural studies along the proposed right-of-way. Eventually the LNG developer will negotiate leases after it has obtained its FERC and other permits.
“We have collected a wealth of data on the pipeline environment, but we don’t have property rights agreements in place yet,” he said.
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