LNG – Its About Export

The site of the proposed Oregon LNG terminal near Astoria, now considering export.

“There is currently no need for import into North America,” said Bob Braddock, manager of the Jordan Cove LNG project in Coos Bay. “We accept that. If anything makes sense, it’s export.” September 1, 2011 – The Oregonian

During the 2011 legislative session, the Sierra Club teamed up with the Oregon Small Woodlands Association and other allies to fight HB 2700, a bill that would expedite the process for applying for wetland removal-fill permits for ‘linear utilities’ like pipelines.

Our concern was not so much about a new process for transmission lines, roads, or water pipes, but because we knew this was a backdoor way to jump start the process for the development of highly controversial and damaging liquefied natural gas (LNG) pipelines. We advocated an amendment that would have prevented the provisions of the bill from applying to pipelines intended to import or export of LNG.

Unfortunately, our common-sense amendment was not adopted. The bill was signed by the Governor, but he issued a letter on August 3 noting his ongoing concern over LNG development in Oregon and intention to have state agencies hold LNG companies firmly to state and local laws given the track record of previous damaging pipeline developments in Oregon.

The Governor wrote on August 3: ‘I fully expect and will demand that Oregon agencies with a regulatory role relating to LNG facilities scrutinize applications carefully, and deny applications that do not meet applicable state and local standards. I also will insist that conditions to assure that environmental standards are met are carefully drawn and vigorously enforced.’

Throughout the session, proponents of HB 2700 claimed it had nothing to do with LNG, despite abundant evidence to the contrary. Further, some of those in favor of the bill also pointed to the bankruptcy of Bradwood Landing LNG, claiming this proved that the market could not support LNG import terminals, so there was nothing to worry about.

We pointed out that the new game in town wasn’t LNG import, its was export of US natural gas to overseas markets. Once a terminal and connecting pipelines get built in Astoria or Coos Bay, international gas companies will export or import based on where they can get the best price. Gas export not only poses the same environmental problems (pipelines crossing rivers, wetlands and farms; development and dredging of sensitive estuaries; and increased reliance on fossil fuels) it also threatens existing jobs and industry in Oregon sensitive to export related energy price spikes.

Back on July 16, the Oregonian newspaper reported that Oregon LNG’s proposed terminal along the Columbia River near Astoria (pictured above) was considering LNG export in an article titled ‘Oregon LNG terminal plans reverse from importing to exporting gas.’

And with the recent completion of the Ruby gas pipeline, carrying gas from Wyoming to a hub southern Oregon near the California boarder, a September 1 article in the Oregonian newspaper revealed even more details on the impact of the Ruby pipeline on the aspirations of LNG companies. After years spent denying that LNG export is on the table, developers have quickly changed their tune. From the Oregonian on September 1:

In the short run, Ruby puts a market-based exclamation point on the notion that there is no need for terminals in Oregon to import liquefied natural gas. The rationale for those projects relied largely on demand in California — needs now served by Ruby and the existing TransCanda GTN  pipeline that runs through central Oregon.

If anything, Ruby gives weight to the idea to convert LNG import projects to export facilities to serve lucrative gas markets in Asia. Backers of the proposed LNG terminal in Coos Bay and its associated pipeline, which also terminates in Malin, are discussing that notion with U.S. producers and Asian buyers to determine how serious their interest is.

“There is currently no need for import into North America,” said Bob Braddock, manager of the Jordan Cove LNG project in Coos Bay. “We accept that. If anything makes sense, it’s export.”

Braddock said the company plans to finish its licensing for an import facility because most of the money necessary has already been expended. Converting that application to a dual-use facility would involve minimal work, he said, because most of the main structures are the same.

As has become clear for several years since the price of domestic gas started plummeting, its all about export.

2 Responses to LNG – Its About Export

  1. Cass Martinez says:

    It’s all about controlling future world LNG. I read about a vast cooperative plan on the website LNGworldnews.com, but could not re-locate the information when I returned there to share the information with the Oregonian’s reporter. The story he did get into print lacked any info but the local/regional, causing letters to the editor at the O to be off-target.

    JP Morgan holds the vast storage capacity: 40b cubic feet.

    Citigroup, Morgan Stanley and Barclays will do the re-importing and global trading.

    Bechtel will build liquefaction facilities.

    Halliburton, Mitsubishi and Korea will build tankers.

    Shell will export from Brunei, Chevron from Qatar.

    Location, Sabine Pass Terminal, owned by Cheniere.

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