Developers file application for Coos Bay gas export terminal

Wyden is skeptical of plan to export to Japan, S. Korea

PORTLAND — Developers proposing a $7 billion plant to export natural gas from the Rockies and Canada to Asia filed a formal application this week with federal regulators.

The plant at the Coos Bay port in Oregon would chill gas for shipment as a liquid. It faces hurdles, including getting a federal permit to ship to countries such as Japan and South Korea that don't have free-trade agreements with the U.S., and skepticism from U.S. Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Oregon, the Senate Energy Committee chairman who says exports could drive up domestic energy prices.

The plant initially was conceived as an import facility, but the new abundance of cheap gas in the U.S. has turned the market around.

Planners of the Jordan Cove Energy Project, which is led by Calgary-based Veresen Inc., hope to have federal approval within a year. Backers say it would be the largest construction project in Oregon, taking about 900 workers more than three years to complete. The project includes a 230-mile pipeline and a plant that would turn the gas into liquid for shipment on tankers.

Jordan Cove's developers say they have all their local land-use approvals in hand for the liquefaction terminal, though further appeals are likely, and the pipeline still needs separate approvals from Coos and Douglas counties.

Meanwhile, various state and federal agencies need to weigh in on the project's compliance with clean air, clean water, coastal zone management and endangered species regulations.

"We have a bit of a gantlet before us, but we look forward to it," Jordan Cove spokesman Michael Hinrichs told The Oregonian newspaper. "It should make for a thorough review of the project."

Besides the Jordan Cove project, the Oregon LNG project near the mouth of the Columbia River remains on the drawing board.

Oregon LNG also is in the prefiling stage with Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, but Clatsop County has denied permission for that terminal's pipeline and is expected to finalize that decision this summer.

Oregon LNG has said it intends to comply with all state and local permitting, though it might argue that the county's decision is moot, and that federal regulators' approvals are all that's required under the Energy Policy Act of 2005.

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