Looking for some early holiday cheer, two Oregon liquefied natural gas (LNG) projects expect to clear local hurdles in their respective permitting processes this week. Both NorthernStar Natural Gas’s Bradwood Landing LNG project along the Columbia River and the Jordan Cove Energy Project LP at Coos Bay along the Pacific Coast hope to be able to concentrate on the FERC process next year.

Bob Braddock, project manager for Jordan Cove and a principal in a private equity group that is bankrolling part of the project along with Alberta-based Fort Chicago Energy Partners LP, told NGI last Friday that a marine slip permit for its Coos Bay site is expected to be granted by Friday (Dec. 14), and the company is expecting to get an environmental assessment schedule by Thursday from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC).

“This is the process for the draft environmental impact statement [EIS],” Braddock said. This should provide the “reality check” of when Jordan Cove can eventually expect to complete the FERC certification process, he said.

While acknowledging that the Columbia River-based Bradwood Landing project is further ahead in the FERC process, Braddock said he views Jordan Cove’s FERC proceeding as an eight-month process. “We’re anticipating that FERC will state a target date in late March or the first of April.”

NorthernStar’s project hopes to get a favorable vote Thursday from the Clatsop County Commission allowing the needed zoning variances for it proposed LNG terminal site, located 30 miles east of Astoria, OR, at the mouth of the Columbia River. Despite a staff recommendation for denial, the Clatsop County Planning Committee last August recommended approval of the zoning changes on a 4-3 vote (see Daily GPI, Dec. 3).

NorthernStar has made it clear that it expects to have a permit and begin construction next year, despite the fact that opponents of the project are likely to challenge a favorable local county decision before the Oregon Land-Use Appeals Board. The project’s environmental review at FERC is moving along so far with no hitches. Last August, the FERC staff indicated that with “proper mitigation,” the project should get a favorable nod (see Daily GPI, Aug. 21).

Meanwhile for the Coos Bay project the focus on a FERC permit is the end of 2008, Braddock told NGI. FERC permitting is being driven in parallel with the related Pacific Connector Pipeline, which is a proposed 230-mile, 36-inch diameter, 1 Bcf/d project to interconnect the LNG supplies from Jordan Cove to existing major interstate natural gas pipelines serving California, the Northwest and other parts of the West (see Daily GPI, March 9).

“It [the FERC process for the pipeline] is identical, and they are the ones driving the process,” Braddock said. “The complexity of the EIS and all the agencies involved in the pipeline” are viewed as a tougher, more uncertain task. The LNG terminal part of the process should be ready before that time frame, according to Braddock.

Recent storms involving the interaction of an Alaskan storm front meeting typhoons from Japan in a “perfect storm” type of encounter did not raise any new safety concerns about the LNG proposals in Oregon, Braddock said. Even with the Coos County officials meeting last week within a day of the storms’ pounding of the Oregon coast, no one raised concerns about siting an LNG terminal along the coast.

“The issue has not come up at all,” said Braddock, noting that the hearing earlier in December on its local county permit drew no representatives from opposing local environmental groups. “Tuesday this week [Dec. 4] was right after the storm had come through, and I was there, and at our hearing not one of the opponents showed up.”

The opposition has been vocal as opposed to national or statewide environmental groups for the Jordan Cove project, Braddock said. “I think the Columbia River activity has drawn broader, regional opposition activity,” he said.

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