Port of Longview May Get West Coast’s First Propane/Butane Export Terminal

By Shari Phiel, April 10, 2014, The Daily News

A newly-formed energy company hopes to soon call the Port of Longview home to the first liquid propane and butane export terminal on the West Coast. Haven Energy’s terminal project would mean hundreds of short- and long-term jobs for local workers and millions of dollars in tax revenues.


“We’re partnering with the Port of Longview to create jobs, invest in safety and provide a clean, environmentally friendly energy resource,” Haven President Greg Bowles told The Daily News.


Although there are several propane and butane storage facilities in California and a few in Washington, the $275 million Longview terminal would be the first export terminal in the Western U.S. Construction is expected to take about 21 months and require 2,000 jobs.


“That’s substantially locally sourced labor and construction materials,” Bowles said.


An existing propane export terminal in Ferndale has the ability to export butane, but has not pursued that option.


Construction jobs, says the company, would pay out $135 million in wages and benefits and generate $17 million in state and local tax revenues.


The terminal project would eventually create 110 to 125 permanent local jobs, Haven estimates. This includes 26 to 35 direct company jobs and 22 direct rail and maritime industry jobs — at above average wages. In addition, the project would indirectly create about 68 indirect jobs related to increased business for suppliers and vendors, Haven estimates.


“This is going to be a great fit for the port and the community,” said port CEO Geir-Eilif Kalhagen.


Haven Energy would build two 100-foot tall, fully-contained concrete tanks to store the liquid gases on the port’s vacant Berth 4, which the port wants to renovate using newly reimposed property taxes. The liquid gases would be shipped from the Bakken oil fields in North Dakota by rail in specially designed tanker cars.


Bowles estimated two 100-car-long trains would be needed every three days. Trains would use the port’s existing rail corridor and not affect any public roads, Bowles added.


Much of the butane and propane, natural byproducts of gas processing and oil refining, being produced in North Dakota’s Bakken oil fields is now “flared” or burned off as waste into the air.


Haven will capture these gases at a plant to be built near the oil fields, cool them to a liquid state and ship them to the export terminal in Longview. From there, the propane and butane would be loaded on Panamax-sized carriers bound for markets in Hawaii, Mexico, the U.S. Pacific Coast, Asia and, to a lesser extent, South America.


“These are hydrocarbons that are being burned with no productive use right now. That’s what we’re recovering and saving those emissions. Over 1 million tons per year of carbon dioxide will be saved. That’s the equivalent of almost 200,000 cars from the road,” Bowles said, speaking “greenhouse gas” emissions.


Haven Energy is a subsidiary of Sage Midstream, a privately held company focused on natural gas liquids transportation, marketing, gathering, treating and processing. The company formed in 2012 when private equity firm Riverstone Holdings and oil and gas services company Kaiser Midstream invested $500 million in the partnership.


Port and Haven Energy officials tried to allay any public safety concerns about the commodities.


“This project will have $60 million in safety features,” Bowles said.


Haven’s two storage tanks will be made from concrete and have a tank-within-a tank design.


The liquefied gases are refrigerated and stored under less than 10 pounds per square inch of pressure — about a third as much as a typical car tire.


“These tanks were designed for conflict zones in highly volatile areas of the world so some guy with an RPG (rocket propelled grenade) couldn’t take it out,” Kalhagen said


Butane and propane would be shipped in the DOT-112, which are built to a higher standard than the DOT-111 cars used to ship crude oil. DOT-112s extra feature include thermal insulation, built-in shields resistant to puncture and coupling devices to prevent cars from separating in the event of a derailment.


“The Columbia River has the depth, tide, wind and visibility for these ships to move safely. Propane has been moved safely on the Columbia River for years already,” Bowles added.


Kalhagen said the port and Haven Energy will keep the public informed of all project details and development. That process will begin Wednesday, when the company and port host two public informational meetings, one at 3 p.m. and another at 6 p.m., at the Cowlitz County Expo Center.


“Rather than do all of the legwork behind closed doors and then show up at a commission meeting with a lease for the commissioners to sign, we’re actually going to do this out in the open and invite public participation in the process,” Kalhagen said.

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