A proposed liquefied natural gas terminal near Astoria, Ore. received the U.S. government’s blessing today to export to all overseas markets. That’s a necessary approval to make the controversial project pencil out. However, many hurdles remain.
The U.S. Department of Energy gave a company called Oregon LNG conditional approval to export domestic and Canadian natural gas from the Port of Astoria.
The federal agency turned aside objections from environmental and utility groups who argued that exports will create higher demand on North American supplies. This would lead to higher domestic gas prices and by extension, higher electricity rates.
Peter Hansen, the Oregon LNG chief executive, insists gas exports should yield a net economic benefit to the U.S.
“Market prices will go up a little bit,” Hansen said. “The positive impacts to the economy will be so large that it will compensate many times over for that.”
Hansen says the export approval adds “momentum” to his project, but he acknowledges the permitting process is a “marathon.” An environmental impact statement and the okay for the feeder pipeline still lie ahead.
The proposed Columbia River terminal is one of several on the drawing board to move cheap North American natural gas to thirsty Asian markets. Other locations undergoing lengthy review include Coos Bay, Oregon and Kitimat, British Columbia.
Hansen says his company hopes to break ground for its LNG tanker terminal late next year or in early 2016. Under that scenario, natural gas exports from the lower Columbia River could start late in 2019.
Copyright 2014 Northwest News Network