Palomar Gas Transmission has withdrawn its permit application to build a 220-mile natural gas pipeline through central Oregon. But the company still has plans to submit an application for a new pipeline project with a similar goal of delivering natural gas to the Portland metropolitan area.
The Palomar pipeline was a joint venture of Northwest Natural and TransCanada Corporation. It would have connected TransCanada’s natural gas pipeline in Madras with a Northwest Natural pipeline in Molalla.
A spur of the main pipeline was planned to deliver gas to Molalla from the Bradwood Landing liquefied natural gas terminal. Bradwood Landing’s bankruptcy was one of several reasons Palomar decided to withdraw its pipeline permit, according to company spokesman David Dodson.
David Dodson: “It was a convergence of circumstances that we had not anticipated when we filed the original certificate in 2008. The most significant of course was the bankruptcy of NorthernStar Natural Gas, which of course Bradwood Landing was one of our biggest customers, and that was unanticipated.”
Several other factors contributed to the company’s decision to withdraw its current permit and start planning a new project, including the recession, which delayed the expected increase in demand for natural gas.
Another reason was that Palomar recently got permission to route a portion of its pipeline through the Warm Springs Reservation. The new route will allow the company to avoid putting a pipeline across the Deschutes River in a national scenic area near Maupin and reduce the pipeline’s footprint in Mount Hood National Forest by almost 30 percent.
Finally, Palomar has just begun exploring a new partnership with Williams Northwest Pipeline Company, one of the top natural gas transmission companies in the region. But the details of that partnership are still being negotiated.
David Dodson: “Because it is so new it just made sense to withdraw this application, talk not only with Northwest but with other potential customers, make sure we’ve got the commercial commitments because these projects are so expensive and take so long that you really can’t move forward without those commercial commitments, and at present we don’t have them.”
Dodson said the new pipeline project timeline is uncertain, but it will not include a western pipeline segment beyond Molalla.
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