A proposal to build a liquefied natural gas import facility near Warrenton took a step backward Wednesday, as the company withdrew its paperwork with federal agencies.
LNG Development Company and the Oregon Pipeline Company, often referred to simply as Oregon LNG, are now likely to modify their proposal with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, according to documents filed with FERC.
Opponents of the project say they’re pleased with the withdrawal, but added they believe it’s the first step in turning what was originally conceived as an import facility into one used for exports.
The move toward exports would be similar to one made earlier in the year by the state’s other LNG project in Coos Bay.
Backers of the Jordan Cove Energy Project in Coos County first withdrew and then refiled their paperwork with FERC in late February, requesting the project’s proposal change from an import to export facility.
Opponents of the project say they expect the state to stand in the way of any of Oregon LNG’s plans to modify its FERC filings.
“It’s legal for Jordan Cove to export,” said Paul Sansone, an energy policy consultant and LNG opponent, “it’s not legal for Oregon LNG.”
Sansone said Oregon LNG’s sublease with the Port of Astoria for the state-owned land would block the company’s plans to export liquefied natural gas. The contract calls for Oregon LNG to build an LNG import facility.
Last December, the Department of State Lands sent a letter to the Port of Astoria’s Executive Director Jack Crider, reminding him that the lease calls for the development of an import facility.
Sansone said because of the abundance of natural gas discovered in the United States, the import market for the energy source has dried up.
“There are no economics for imports,” he said, adding that the only viable financial model for LNG is exporting it.
Markets in Asia are the likeliest destinations for American exports.
LNG exports are controversial. U.S. Rep. Suzanne Bonamici, the North Coast’s Congresswoman, along with Sens. Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley, have voiced opposition to plans to export LNG.
Oregon LNG has not responded to requests for comments.
Supporter of LNG, however, continue to tout the regional economic benefits of LNG terminals, referring to them as job creators.
This story originally appeared in Daily Astorian.