Panel OKs Jordan Cove project

A federal regulatory panel has approved a proposed liquefied natural gas export terminal and pipeline in Oregon that could connect Western Colorado supplies with Asian markets.

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) voted 2-1 to approve the Jordan Cove terminal and Pacific Connector Pipeline.

The project still faces roadblocks in Oregon, where the state department of land conservation and development ruled backers hadn’t demonstrated the project would comply with a coastal management plan. Oregon also has denied a water quality certificate and dredging permit. The project has drawn opposition for its potential environmental effects.

The FERC approval constitutes an important milestone, however, said Harry Andersen, senior vice president and chief legal officer of Pembina Pipeline. The Canada-based corporation backs the project.

“We appreciate FERC’s science-based approach to their review,” Andersen stated in a news release. “The approval emphasizes yet again that Jordan Cove is environmentally responsible and is a project that should be permitted given a prudent regulatory and legal process undertaken.”

FERC Chairman Neil Chatterjee said he was pleased to approve the Jordan Cove project. Chatterjee said the FERC has approved 12 liquefied natural gas export terminals since he began chairman, but Jordan Cove is the first that would be located on the west coast of the lower 48 states.

The Jordan Cove terminal has been proposed for a location near Coos Bay, a former timber hub on the Oregon coast. The Pacific Connector Pipeline would connect the terminal to a hub 230 miles away in Malin, Oregon.

Andersen said Pembina has signed voluntary easement agreements that collectively constitute about 77 percent of the privately-owned portion of the proposed pipeline route.

The Malin hub in turn connects to a system of pipelines coming down from Canada and the Ruby Pipeline system in the Western United States, including the Piceance Basin in Western Colorado. Pembina holds a 50 percent ownership stake in the Ruby Pipeline.

If constructed, the Jordan Cove terminal could be capable of liquefying more than 1 billion cubic feet of natural gas a day to ship to export markets.

A West Coast liquefied natural gas terminal offers competitive advantages over terminals elsewhere in reducing the distance and time it takes to ship natural gas to Asia. A round trip between Coos Bay and Tokyo, for example, takes 27 days.

Japan ranks among the top LNG importers in the world and would like to add North America to a mix of sources that also includes Russia and the Middle East.

For Western Colorado, Andersen said the Jordan Cove project offers an opportunity to connect natural gas supplies in the Piceance Basin to Asian markets. Long-term contracts would lock in sales and prices and in turn decrease volatility while increasing sustainability and investment in Western Colorado energy development.

Andersen attributed the FERC approval in part to support for the Jordan Cove project in Oregon as well as Western Colorado. “The FERCs decision is due in no small part to our many supporters who have turned out time and time again to voice their support for Jordan Cove and to show that the project is in the public interest, including in southern Oregon and the Rockies basin.”