By Marissa Luck, January 28, 2015, The Daily News
After more than eight months of negotiations, the Port of Longview announced Tuesday it is close to completing a lease agreement with Haven Energy.
Port staff said Tuesday they will present key terms of the lease to the public next week, and they expect port commissioners to vote on the lease in March.
Haven announced in April that it wants to build a $275 million propane export terminal at the port’s vacant Berth 4. The Texas-based company said the project would create 2,000 construction jobs and 110 to 125 permanent jobs. Liquid propane and butane would be shipped from North Dakota by rail car at an average of two 100-car trains every three days.
Neither port or Haven officials would release detailed information about the lease Tuesday. They will host a joint public meeting to announce its terms at 6 p.m. Feb. 4 at the Expo Center. A public comment session will be at 3 p.m. Feb. 19 at the Cowlitz Expo Center.
Port commissioners will vote on lease agreement at 9:30 a.m. March 10 at the Expo Center.
Lease talks had snagged last summer over the price for renting port property and the rates Haven would pay for moving cargo, according to port staff.
The lease agreement will outline how Haven and the port will share the cost for redeveloping Berth 4.
Commissioners already have set aside $2.4 million in the 2015 budget for the Berth 4 project. The dock redevelopment was already underway before Haven pitched its project, but the port would have to modify the plan to accommodate Haven, said port spokeswoman Ashley Helenberg.
The propane terminal would require another dock and trestle, according to budget documents.
Last October, port commissioners approved a $10 million project to expand the port’s rail corridor from two to five tracks. The port said then it hoped to break ground on the project in 2016 and to complete it in phases. It’s possible the rail expansion could be expedited to better serve Haven Energy, Helenberg said.
Liquid products would be transferred from rail cars to two, 100-foot-tall concrete storage tanks before it is loaded onto ships bound for Hawaii, Mexico, the U.S. Pacific Coast and Asia.
At Tuesdays’s port meeting, four people voiced opposition to the Haven project, saying it poses safety hazards and would worsen rail congestion. Margaret Green of Longview worried about the placement of potentially-explosive liquid propane tanks, and said liquefied propane “is particularly dangerous.”
Port CEO Geir-Elif Kalhagen said “safety is paramount” and encouraged the public to raise these questions at upcoming meetings.
“It’s one thing to look at the revenue stream (of Haven), and it’s another thing to look at the benefit for the community,” Kalhagen said.