Friday, May 10, 2013

Port of St. Helens Coal Export Plans Dropped

Energy company Kinder Morgan on May 8 said it has abandoned plans to build a coal export terminal at a Port of St. Helens industrial park, but says it will consider other Pacific Northwest locations for the facility.

The Houston-based company had been exploring the possibility of putting a terminal in place since early 2012. According to spokesman Allen Fore, Kinder Morgan decided not to seek permits not because of community and regional opposition to coal exports, but because of site logistics. The company couldn’t find a favorable configuration for conducting business, he said.

In January 2012, Kinder Morgan had proposed to design, build and operate a state-of-the-art coal export terminal at the Port of St. Helens’ Port Westward Industrial Park.

The proposed terminal was estimated to require $150 to $200 million in capital investment for construction and development, and would have generated an estimated 80 full time jobs to manage and operate the facility, according to Kinder Morgan. The project could have created more than 150 construction jobs over an 18 to 30 month period, according to estimates.

It was one of more than half a dozen proposed coal projects in the region the past few years, only three of which – Gateway Pacific Terminal, planned for Cherry Point, Washington, Millennium Bulk Terminal, planned for Longview, Washington, and a planned Port of Morrow facility near Boardman, Oregon – are still active.

Despite moving on from the Port of St. Helens, Kinder Morgan says it will explore other potential sites in the Pacific Northwest, where it has a sizable presence.

The company’s holdings in the region include two terminals in Portland that distribute gasoline and diesel to gas stations and load barges going up the Columbia River to supply eastern Oregon and Washington; a pipeline that transports gasoline and diesel from Portland to Eugene; and a dry bulk export terminal within the Port of Portland that handles soda ash, a common ingredient in glass.