More than seven years after China-backed efforts began to build natural gas-fed methanol manufacturing along the Columbia River in the Pacific Northwest, a single site may have been resuscitated in Washington.
The Washington Ecology Department issued a draft second supplemental environmental impact statement (SSEIS) for the proposed Northwest Innovation Works (NWIW) methanol facility in Port Kalama. NWIW secured added financial backing from global shipper Hafnia Ltd., which also agreed to ship one-third of the production.
NWIW has sought to develop a 3.6 million metric tons/year facility at the port to convert more than 30 Bcf of natural gas to methanol. Production would be transported for use in Asian markets.
NWIW general counsel Kent Caputo said the SSEIS reflects “an exhaustive effort to thoroughly analyze this project, with unprecedented depth and focus on greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.” The assessment is “a fully independent analysis that addresses issues across every level, and looks at the project from every angle.”
The project backers said the draft confirms their calculations that the facility could provide a net global reduction in GHG emissions by displacing Chinese coal use.
Regulators with the Ecology Department “didn’t agree with our level of emissions saving, but they still agreed to a significant level of savings,” said NWIW’s spokesperson Clay Riding.
He told NGI’s Shale Daily the final SSEIS is expected by the end of the year. A final investment decision could come sometime in 2021, which if it were to proceed would price the facility “north of $2 billion.” If sanctioning were to happen in 2021, the project could begin operations in 2025.
Under the draft, NWIW would be required to mitigate all emissions from operations and offset emissions from the Canadian gas supply process, Riding said.
The original plan was three methanol plants, including one in the Port of Tacoma, WA. However, environmental opposition scuttled the project. A third plant also has been considered near the Port Westward gas-fired generation plant in Oregon.
Tokyo-Mitsui OSK Lines Ltd. had agreed to invest in NWIW and provide ships to serve the planned methanol facility. However, the Port of Kalama challenged the use of an environmental permitting process.
NWIW was created by China-based Clean Energy Commercialization Co., which partnered with units of Double Green Bridge and the Chinese Academy of Science Holding Co. and private investors in H&Q Asia Pacific. NWIW is owned by China’s Shanghai Bi Ke Clean Technology Co. Ltd.
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