Northwest Williams Pipeline hopes to add 35 miles of new pipeline through Cowlitz County as part of a 140-mile statewide expansion to send gas to a proposed liquefied natural gas export terminal near Astoria.

The 36-inch diameter pipe running through Cowlitz County would carry regular natural gas in vapor form, not the superchilled liquid version known as LNG. The gas would come from Canada, through Washington and enter Oregon through a link under the Columbia River near Woodland.

The gas would then be liquefied — chilled into a liquid state — near Astoria and shipped to Asia, according to plans by Oregon Pipeline Co. Oregon Pipeline would build the Oregon part of the pipeline, which would run for 85 miles through Columbia and Clatsop counties.

The new LNG plans in Oregon have been retooled to export LNG rather than import it from foreign sources as previously planned. In addition to the Warrenton, Ore., site near Astoria, another LNG export terminal is planned near Coos Bay, Ore.

While the two pipeline projects are being developed and permitted together, Northwest Williams is working as a customer to Oregon Pipeline and has no direct stake in the LNG plant, said spokeswoman Michele Swaner. The expanded Washington pipeline, which is estimated to cost $870 million, also will be opened up to other customers in the region, she noted.

While exact routes are still be determined, the plan is to run the new pipe along existing Williams right-of-way from Sumas, Wash., — at the Canada border — south to Woodland. The company already has a 30-inch diameter pipeline in place in that right-of-way as well as a dormant 26-inch pipeline taken out of service in 2006. There also already are some sections of 36-inch pipe along the route; this project will connect those together for a continuous 36-inch diameter pipeline next to the 30-inch pipeline, Swaner said.

The Cowlitz County expansion section starts near Woodland, east of Interstate 5 in the rough vicinity of the intersection of Lewis River and Insel roads. It runs north to the Lewis County border in the foothills east of Interstate 5.

The company expects to file for Federal Energy Regulatory Commission permits early in 2013 and begin work in mid 2016. The expansion project is expected to be completed in late 2018. Once the pipeline is operational, Williams Northwest estimates the line will generate $1.8 million in property taxes annually in Cowlitz County and more than $10 million a year statewide.

While LNG has been controversial — a proposed LNG import terminal near Puget Island was hotly protested by neighbors and eventually scrapped — Williams officials said they’re don’t expect to be part of the debate.

“Williams is responding to a request from a customer (Oregon LNG) to provide increased capacity on its system,” Swaner stated in written remarks. “Williams is a transporter of natural gas and responds to market demands.”

In addition, Swaner said the 30-inch and 36-inch pipelines will be “looped” together which means the company can run gas through either of them. That enhances reliability, she said, because it means service doesn’t need to be cut off if maintenance is needed one pipeline.

More details about the plans, including how to submit public comments, is available at http://elibrary.ferc.gov by using docket number PF12-20.

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