Liquified Natural Gas in Oregon

Liquefied natural gas (LNG) is natural gas (predominantly methane) that has been converted temporarily to liquid form for ease of storage or transport. LNG takes up about 1/600th the volume of natural gas in the gaseous state. For ship transport, the gas is chilled to approximately negative 260 °F (127 °C), condensing the gas into a liquid, making it easier to ship.

Propane is one of a group of liquefied petroleum gases. Others include butane, propylene and butylene.

Propane is normally a gas, commonly used in barbeques and RVs, but compressible to a transportable liquid as Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG). It’s by-product of natural gas processing and petroleum refining, and is generally stored and transported in steel cylinders as a liquid with a vapor space above the liquid.

Propane in ordinary BBQ or RV tanks, doesn’t need to be chilled to liquify. It converts into a flammable gas when released from a pressurized tank.

Four Liquefied Natural Gas projects have been proposed for Oregon and Washington recently:

Oregon LNG near Astoria would require roughly 125 new ships crossing the Columbia River bar (inbound and outbound) every year. ECONorthwest says the facility is estimated to cost $5.8 billion with construction of the pipeline adding another $487 million between 2014 and 2018.

  • Jordan Cove near Coos Bay would bring gas in by pipeline from a gas hub in Malin, southeast of Klamath Falls.

On March 10, Longview residents secured a 3-0 vote from the Port of Longview commissioners rejecting a lease with Haven Energy. Longview residents organized by the group Landowners and Citizens for a Safe Community and the ILWU Local 21 were at the forefront of opposition to Haven Energy’s propane export terminal proposal. Commissioners Lou Johnson and Darold Dietz said they would support the project, but not at the proposed 24-acre site near Berth 4.


Oregon LNG, on April 15, 2016, annnounced the company will withdraw a proposed $6 billion terminal and pipeline project on the Skipanon Peninsula. The Leucadia National Corp., the New York-based holding company behind the project, was no longer willing to bankroll the effort.
Another LNG proposal, the Bradwood Landing LNG terminal, along the Columbia, has been officially off the table and essentially dead for several years.

On March 4, 2014, the Port of Portland made an official statement saying it “is interested in being part of an American energy renaissance brought on by this remarkable domestic oil transformation. However, we do not believe that we have sufficient answers to the important questions regarding environmental and physical safety to proceed with any type of development at this time.”

Now the Port of Portland is welcoming shipping Liquified Natural Gas by trains to terminal 6. The logistics of bringing in additional LNG trains over the congested rail system was not addressed by the Port or Pembina. Neither were the CO2 questions.

Those opposed to Pembina’s propane proposal say,

“Burning the 37,000 barrels of propane Pembina wants to pipe through town translates to 9,883 tons of CO2 – each and every day. The average car (12k miles/year, 25.5 mpg) produces 8320 pounds of CO2 annually — or 22.8 pounds daily. 9883 tons is 19,766,000 pounds. Divide that by 22.8 and you get 867,138 cars. 37,000 barrels of propane a day is the same as putting 867,138 cars on the road every day. In our growing climate crisis, it is unacceptable for Portland’s mayor to be throwing his support behind new fossil fuel infrastructure.”

The U.S. Energy Department approved Oregon LNG to export liquefied natural gas from the Warrington Oregon location, as the Obama administration works through applications to export fuel from the domestic drilling boom to markets in Asia and Europe. It’s by far the largest proposed LNG export facility in the Northwest.

Oregon LNG, which is controlled by Leucadia National Corp , has been authorized by the department to export up to 1.25 billion cubic feet per day of the fuel for 20 years. It hopes to begin exporting LNG in 2017.

An IndieGoGo fundraising campaign hopes to stop the Jordon Cove Pipeline to Coos Bay. The Astoria, Oregon-based project still needs approval from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), which will review the project’s environmental impacts.

The Liquefied Natural Gas projects proposed for Oregon & SW Washington include Haven Energy’s terminal project in Longview (which would bring in refrigerated LNG by rail from North Dakota), Oregon LNG (near Astoria), Pembina rail-served propane export terminal near Terminal 6, at the Port of Portland, and Jordan Cove (near Coos Bay). Jordan Cove and Astoria’s proposed terminal would not use trains, but rather a pipeline to bring in the natural gas. Liquefied Natural Gas would be shipped out by large, specially designed ships.

Coos Bay Natural Gas Pipeline Proposal

Calgary-based Veresen and its pipeline partner, Tulsa-based Williams Companies, hope regulators approve Veresen’s plan to build Jordan Cove, an export terminal for liquefied natural gas in Coos Bay, using its planned Pacific Connector Pipeline would come across land acquired by eminent domain. The Pacific Connector would stretch halfway across the state, from a gas hub in Malin, southeast of Klamath Falls, to feed the proposed Jordan Cove Energy Project in Coos Bay.

Along its 230-mile path, contractors would clear-cut public and private forests, tunnel under hundreds of rivers and streams and plow across more than 400 parcels of privately owned land, reports the Oregonian.

The three proposals for LNG terminals in Oregon originally planned to IMPORT natural gas (in the interest of national security). Today, the plans have gone through a 180 degree change. Now the natural gas terminal proposals would EXPORT natural gas (in the interest of national security). The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission would have to sign off on any terminal.

A 3-foot diameter pipeline would carry non-odorized LNG-sourced natural gas under very high pressure (1400 psi), 3 to 5 feet below ground. The pipeline would bring gas to the Astoria/Warrington terminal. The high-pressure pipeline would require an initial “construction easement of 120 feet at a minimum, and a permanent 50-foot right-of-way post construction.

In addition, two unrelated (Methanol) plants along the lower Columbia River have been proposed to distill methanol from natural gas. Those plants are backed by a Chinese and British petroleum investment called NW Innovation Works. Each plant would cost more than $1 billion and employ about 120 people. The two methanol export plants would be built at the Port of Kalama and Port Westward near Clatskanie.

The NW Innovation Works Methanol plants do not involve Liquified Natural Gas. They would bring in natural gas using Williams existing Natural Gas pipeline and create Methanol. Methanol would then be shipped out in its natural state (as a non-refrigerated liquid).

Haven Energy hopes their newly-formed energy company will soon call the Port of Longview home to the first liquid propane and butane export terminal on the West Coast, reports the Longview Daily News. Haven Energy’s terminal project would would eventually create 110 to 125 permanent local jobs, Haven estimates 26 to 35 direct company jobs and 22 direct rail and maritime industry jobs.

Haven Energy would ship propane and butane in pressurized rail cars from North Dakota to Longview Washington. Haven’s parent company is fuel transporter Sage Midstream of Houston. Haven Energy would refrigerate the gases to a liquid form and store them in tanks on site before loading them onto ships.

At the first public meeting on the $275 million project, Haven stressed the safety features of the project, the first of its kind to be built on the West Coast.

Port of Longview commissioners unanimously rejected the proposed Haven Energy propane export terminal in March 2015, voicing concerns about safety and true economic impact of the $300 million project.

But a recent gas explosion in Plymouth, Washington, underscores how large an area might need to be evacuated if there’s an LNG accident. A Williams Northwest Pipeline spokeswoman said the tank that exploded in Plymouth was about 1/3 full.

The blast seriously burned one worker and forced an evacuation of 400 people within a two-mile radius of the facility.

Although there are several propane and butane storage facilities in California and a few in Washington, the $275 million Longview terminal would be the first export terminal in the Western U.S. Construction is expected to take about 21 months and require 2,000 jobs.

Butane is used as lighter fuel and is mainly used for gasoline blending, as a fuel gas, either alone or in a mixture with propane. Propane is commonly used in barbecues, portable stoves, and residential central heating. It’s a by-product of natural gas processing and petroleum refining. It is normally a gas, but compressible to a transportable liquid.

Haven Energy would build two 100-foot tall, fully-contained concrete tanks to store the liquid gases on the port’s vacant Berth 4. The liquid gases would be shipped from the Bakken oil fields in North Dakota by rail. An estimated two 100-car-long trains would be needed every three days. Trains would use the port’s existing rail corridor.

Haven Energy says the butane and propane would be shipped in DOT-112 railcars, which are different than the DOT-111 cars used to ship crude oil. DOT-112s feature include thermal insulation, built-in shields resistant to puncture and coupling devices to prevent cars from separating in the event of a derailment.

LNG Tanker

At full capacity, two to three ships per month will enter the Columbia River to transport refrigerated propane and butane on transport ships.

Haven Energy is a subsidiary of Sage Midstream, a privately held company focused on natural gas liquids transportation, marketing, gathering, treating and processing.

The Oregon LNG project, near Astoria, would include a marine receiving terminal, three full-containment 160,000 cubic meter LNG storage tanks, and facilities to support ship berthing and cargo offloading. The proposed Oregon LNG receiving facility in Warrenton, Oregon, would be eight miles (13 km) west of Astoria, Oregon, on the Columbia River. The terminal originally planned to receive Liquefied natural gas shipped from overseas then transported down state through a new pipeline with a route similar to the competing Palomar Pipeline.

Astoria LNG Pipeline

Oregon LNG’s filings state its terminal will require roughly 125 new ships crossing the Columbia River bar (inbound and outbound) every year. Each departing tanker would carry a staggering 8 percent of total U.S. daily gas consumption, according to Columbia Riverkeepers.

Oregon LNG, based in Warrenton, filed its formal application in June 2013 with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to build an LNG terminal with the capability to both import and export natural gas. The Oregon Pipeline will provide interconnections with an interstate gas pipeline. A similar export terminal application was filed in May, 2013 by the backers of the Jordan Cove LNG terminal in Coos Bay. The proposed Pacific Connector Gas Pipeline would provide a link with existing pipeline systems at Malin, Oregon.

New proposal for Astoria LNG Pipeline

Oregon LNG battled Clatsop County officials over its right to build the pipeline that would bring in gas from the ships and move it to California. Skeptics say the entire economic rationale for importing natural gas to the United States has become questionable given the huge new reserves of shale gas in the United States and Canada. They were right.

The same backers proposing a $6 billion gas import facility now want a gas export facility. The successful use of hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling techniques have flooded the domestic market with natural gas.

The three (earlier) LNG (import) facilities in Oregon that had been actively discussed are:

  • Oregon LNG, which planned to import natural gas now says export economics from Oregon stack up well against Gulf Coast competitors. Oregon LNG, in Warrington, is also proposing a different route for the pipeline. The Warrenton export plant would be operational by 2017 or 2018. An economic impact analysis done by ECONorthwest showed the facility is estimated to cost $5.8 billion with construction of the pipeline adding another $487 million between 2014 and 2018. The project is expected to employ an average of 3,024 workers per year during construction of the facility and provide 149 jobs, mostly to Oregon and Washington residents.

“LNG import was really unpopular in Clatsop County, and LNG export is going to be wildly unpopular in Clatsop County,” said Dan Serres, an organizer with the conservation group Columbia Riverkeeper. Both Oregon LNG and the Jordan Cove LNG proposal in Coos Bay are at the start of a long permitting odyssey.

Proposed Palomar pipeline.

The NorthernStar Natural Gas company planned the Palomar Pipeline, feeding the Bradford landing export facility. It was planned to be a joint venture between NW Natural and Calgary, Alberta-based TransCanada Corp. A planned 36-inch diameter pipeline would stretch 217 miles from TransCanada’s Gas Transmission Northwest Pipeline in central Oregon to a point on the Columbia River near Astoria where it was to connect the Bradwood Landing project.

The Jordan Cove Energy Project has conditionally cleared the U.S. DOE to export liquefied natural gas. The approval allows Jordan Cove to export LNG at a rate of 0.8 billion standard cubic feet per day for 20 years to non-Free Trade Agreement countries. The LNG facility had already been granted approval to export LNG to Free Trade Agreement countries in December 2011. The U.S. has FTAs with 20 countries.

Backers of the controversial Jordan Cove Energy Project are starting their regulatory odyssey anew, filing paperwork in Februrary, 2012 with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. Jordan Cove and the associated Pacific Connector pipeline originally won federal approval (for export) in December 2009, only to become ensnared in state and local permitting issues.

Pembina Pipeline Corp. of Calgary will spend more than $500 million to build a rail-served propane export terminal in the Rivergrate Industrial District near Terminal 6, the Port of Portland said in early September.

In Portland, Pembina intends bring propane to the terminal by train, then pipe it underground from the terminal to an existing dock, where it will be loaded for shipment across the Pacific to customers in Asia. The company and the Port say they hope the terminal will be operating by early 2018.

The proposed project could create up to 800 construction jobs and up to 40 permanent jobs, Pembina and the Port said. The Port described the deal as ” one of the largest single private capital investments in the city’s history.”

In April, a propane and butane export terminal was proposed in Longview, Washington from Haven Energy. Haven would ship propane by rail from Bakken fields, in pressurized tank cars, exporting it from Port of Longview’s terminal 4 to customers in Asia, Hawaii and the Mexican Pacific Coast.

An explosion at a Washington State LNG facility raised questions about the terminal planned near Warrenton.

Shrapnel from the explosion within the Williams Companies facility caused a leak in one of two LNG storage tanks at the site near Plymouth in southeastern Washington.

Emergency responders evacuated workers and residents in a two-mile (3.2 km) radius, officials said. Each storage tank stands 133 feet tall and holds up to 1.2 billion cubic feet of natural gas. The 3,900-mile-long Northwest Pipeline, which delivers gas to several Western States, is still operating, Williams said.

Portland' Lifeline systems

Oregon Geology maps out Portland’s lifeline systems and Tsunami Hazard zones.

Shale Gas Map

Natural gas is trapped within shale formations. The combination of horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing has made large volumes of shale gas available for the first time and rejuvenated the natural gas industry in the United States. Shale gas resource and production estimates increased significantly between the 2010 and 2011 and are likely to increase further in the future.

Oregon Senators Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley have both expressed reservations about gas exports because of likely impacts on domestic prices. Even LNG proponents concede that gas exports are likely to raise prices. And Rep. Peter DeFazio recently authored a bill that would prohibit the use eminent domain to build a pipeline if that pipe is used to export LNG, reports The Oregonian.



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