Jordan Cove representative: ‘Stick with us’

RIFLE — A representative for a proposed liquefied natural gas export terminal in Oregon is hoping to fire up project supporters in Colorado as the project heads for reconsideration by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.

Michael Hinrichs, spokesman for the Jordan Cove project, said at the quarterly Northwest Colorado Oil and Gas Forum meeting Thursday that the bipartisan support to date for the project in Colorado is “amazing.”

“That is now having influence in Washington, D.C. It has influence back in Oregon,” he said.

He said he hopes the project continues seeing that support from Colorado over the next 18 months of the permitting process.

“I know that sounds like a long time, but stick with us because it is a big opportunity,” he said.

The terminal is viewed as a high-potential outlet for natural gas produced in western Colorado’s Piceance Basin. However, the FERC denied the project last year.

Hinrichs voiced confidence in the project’s chances upon a second review by FERC, and Garfield County Commissioner Mike Samson said in an interview that he’s “very enthusiastic” about the project’s chances for approval.

“I think northwest Colorado could benefit greatly from that,” he said.

FERC based last year’s decision on a lack of agreements or expressions of interest from customers who would ship gas on a 232-mile pipeline that would be built to serve the terminal. It also cited impacts to landowners who could face eminent domain proceedings if they don’t agree to provide an easement for the pipeline.

Since FERC’s decision, Veresen Inc., the company behind Jordan Cove, has said it has gotten contractual commitments from companies for most of the pipeline capacity, and gotten easement agreements with many more landowners. In December, FERC refused Veresen’s request for a rehearing. Veresen then decided to refile its application, kicking off a new FERC review process.

That review likely will occur under a five-member FERC panel that will include three appointees of President Trump, a strong supporter of domestic oil and gas production. Currently FERC has three vacancies, and nominations have been submitted to fill them.

Leslie Robinson of the Grand Valley Citizens Alliance and Peter Hart, attorney for the Wilderness Workshop, question the proposal on a number of fronts. Robinson said it could end up using just Canadian-produced gas, and Hart noted that Veresen is based in Canada. Hart also said the proposal runs contrary to the notion of natural gas as a domestic energy source that will help keep U.S. energy production at home.

“This is about making it a global commodity,” which will drive up prices for consumers and lead to more pressure to drill on public lands, which can be controversial, Hart said.

Hinrichs said that while it will be up to Jordan Cove customers to decide where they source their gas, he doubts they would “put all their eggs in one basket,” and he believes the Piceance Basin is well-positioned in terms of location and pipeline access to Jordan Cove.

“Piceance gas has potentially one of the most direct lines … to Tokyo,” he said.

Veresen is targeting Japanese and other Asian markets.

Hinrichs sees the domestic and global gas markets as being somewhat separate. He also said Piceance gas is viewed as “stranded,” unable to compete in eastern markets due to the amount of drilling in places such as Pennsylvania and Texas. He believes Jordan Cove could provide a long-term market outlet for Piceance gas, providing more stability in local production rather than continued booms and busts in activity based on gas price swings. 


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