The US energy regulator on Thursday gave the conditional go ahead for construction of the West Coast's first liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminal, in Oregon.
The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) voted 4-1 in favor of the Bradwood Landing import terminal which would supply 1.3 billion cubic feet per day of natural gas to Pacific Northwest industry through an adjoining 36 mile pipeline.
Construction of the terminal, which has met with local opposition, is dependent on the terminal operators, NorthernStar Energy LLC and Bradwood Landing LLC, meeting 109 conditions to ensure safety and security of the facilities.
"In our review of proposed LNG import projects, FERC focuses principally on safety considerations," FERC Chairman Joseph T. Kelliher said in a statement.
"This order includes 109 conditions designed to assure safety and mitigate environmental impact."
A spokesman for NorthernStar told Reuters that the company is "confident" of meeting all the conditions.
LNG terminal proposals on the West Coast have traditionally faced heavy local opposition -- the only terminal on the western coast of North America is in Mexico -- and Bradwood Landing has received objections about the route of the pipeline which could run through land reserved for parks and recreational spaces.
Before the terminal can go ahead, state and federal approval is still needed.
However, FERC believes that the need for extra natural gas import infrastructure is paramount.
FERC noted that denying approval for the project would mean the "objective of providing a new source of natural gas for the Pacific Northwest would not be achieved."
Parties have 30 days after the order is issued to appeal FERC's decision.
A Northern Star spokesman said that the terminal operators are currently in discussions with potential suppliers in Indonesia and Australia to source LNG for the terminal, but declined to comment on specific parties.
He added that LNG produced at the Kenai LNG production plant in Alaska may also be imported at Bradwood, though he did not comment on whether supply would come through long-term contracts or on a more flexible basis.
Bradwood Landing is expected to be operational by 2012-13, with construction beginning in the second half of 2009, pending permits.
LNG is natural gas altered for transportation aboard special tankers. When cooled to minus 259 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 162 Celsius) the gas liquefies and shrinks to 1/600th of its original volume.
Upon arrival at a terminal, the LNG is returned to its gaseous state and fed into pipelines.
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