¡¡¡¡Canada's Pembina Pipeline maintained Friday its target for securing sufficient binding offtake agreements by the end of next month to support construction of its proposed Jordan Cove LNG export terminal in Oregon.
¡¡¡¡The field of developers of new liquefaction facilities in the US has become more crowded in the almost six years since the project initially filed for Federal Energy Regulatory Commission permit approval, giving some urgency to the current operator's decision-making process. A recent pickup in contracting activity by other projects, as well as regulatory movement including Thursday's permit approval for Venture Global LNG's proposed Calcasieu Pass export terminal in Louisiana, has added to the pressure.
¡¡¡¡Jordan Cove is now on its second application after its first one was rejected in 2016, in part because of a failure to show enough demand for the project. Pembina, which inherited the project when it acquired Veresen in 2017, has been aggressively pursuing long-term contracts with buyers of its capacity, and a plan to sell an equity stake in the project to a partner or partners. During a conference call with investors to discuss the company's latest financial results, executives said progress is being made.
¡¡¡¡"Our teams continually are in contact with the federal and state bodies," said Stuart Taylor, Pembina's senior vice president of marketing and new ventures. "We are hoping to have commercial efforts done in the first quarter and the equity process soon after that."
¡¡¡¡Pembina had previously said that it expects a final FERC decision on its current Jordan Cove permit application in November and that it is targeting first LNG in 2024.
¡¡¡¡"Those efforts are all on track relative to what our expectations are," Taylor said. In December, the company disclosed that it had executed non-binding, long-term offtake agreements covering substantive commercial terms for 11 million mt/year of LNG, which exceeds the planned design capacity of the 7.5 million mt/year first phase of the terminal project. Previously, the developer had said offtake deals with a group of Asian buyers covered about half the capacity of Jordan Cove's initial phase and 77% of the capacity of the affiliated Pacific Connector feedgas pipeline that is also being proposed.
¡¡¡¡While West Coast projects would benefit from a shorter shipping route to Asia compared with terminals on the US Gulf Coast, Pembina has been looking to reduce its financial risk, amid volatile commodity prices and increased competition among North American developers. The midstream operator plans to sell as much as 60% of the equity in the terminal and pipeline projects to a partner or partners.
¡¡¡¡Pembina's market outlook, meanwhile, remains unchanged. It has been bullish that long-term market fundamentals support the need for Jordan Cove, especially in light of LNG Canada's October 2018 decision to advance its own West Coast export terminal in British Columbia. Pembina sees LNG exports as a complementary business to its core pipeline operations.
¡¡¡¡Jordan Cove could give a boost to Rockies producers in the region looking for more outlets for their gas, as well as for pipeline operators such as Kinder Morgan and Tallgrass that could benefit from shipper demand and connectivity to midstream infrastructure that serves the LNG terminal. Work on the REX Cheyenne Hub Enhancement Project is expected to be complete in Q4 2019. The enhancements will result in increased firm connectivity between REX and other pipelines at the Cheyenne Hub, providing an outlet to West Coast markets including Jordan Cove, according to Tallgrass.