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Firm suspends plan for liquid natural gas terminal

An Australian company announced Thursday it had suspended its plan to build a controversial offshore liquid natural gas terminal 27 miles from Los Angeles International Airport, citing the downturn in the world economy.

A spokeswoman for Woodside Natural Gas said the company planned to bring the project back when conditions changed.

“Woodside’s in this for the long haul,” said Laura Doll, the company’s vice president for public and governmental affairs. “We can’t say when because we can’t predict the future that precisely.”

The project has been opposed on environmental and safety grounds. On Thursday, project critics spoke as if the project had been killed.

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“I’ve long said the Woodside LNG project posed serious environmental problems and made LAX a bigger security risk,” Rep. Jane Harman (D-Venice) said in a statement. “Perhaps there is a role for LNG as a transitional fuel, but our region already has access to adequate gas supplies to meet market demands. I’m glad that Woodside recognized the level of local concern over this project and am grateful to the elected officials and residents who made their opposition known.”

The environmental group Santa Monica Baykeeper issued a news release saying that “a local coalition of community organizations, elected officials and concerned citizens successfully placed enough pressure” on Woodside to cause the company to end the project.

Woodside’s plan involved taking natural gas from Australia, chilling and condensing it, then shipping it to an offshore terminal 27 miles from the airport. From there it would have been turned back into regular natural gas and sent through pipelines into the Southern California gas delivery system.

Two other liquid natural gas projects have been killed in past years, one for Long Beach Harbor and the other off the Ventura County coast.

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One other is still proposed in Southern California off the coast of Santa Barbara County, said Tom Ford, executive director of Baykeeper. Another has been built just south of Ensenada, Mexico.

Woodside had paid lobbyists more than $400,000 to shepherd the terminal project through a half a dozen agencies in the last two years, according to reports with the Los Angeles Ethics Commission.

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jeff.gottlieb@latimes.com


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