Briefing: Jordan Cove LNG and Pacific Connector Pipeline Greenhouse Gas Emissions

Oil Change International

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January 2018

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The proposed Pacific Connector Gas Pipeline and Jordan Cove Energy Project would transport and process into liquefiedĀ natural gas (LNG) around 430 billion cubic feet of fossil gas annually. The greenhouseĀ gas (GHG) emissions triggered by theĀ project will be significant, but to date the scope of these emissions has not been well understood.

This paper provides an estimate of the full lifecycle emissions of the project,Ā calculating a reference and high caseĀ estimate using the best available information. It finds that the project would add significantly to greenhouse gas emissions both globally and within the state of Oregon. Annual emissions in the Reference Case are 36.8 million metric tons. This is equivalent to over 15 times the 2016 emissions from Oregon’s only remaining coal plant, the Boardman coal plant, which isĀ scheduled to close in 2020 because of climate and air pollution concerns. Emissions in the high case are 52 million metric tons annually.

The emissions estimate includes an estimated range of methane leakage along the supply chain and finds that even a conservative estimate of methane leakageĀ undermines claims that the gas supplied to global markets via the project would lead to a net reduction in GHG emissions. TheĀ paper also finds that there is no evidenceĀ to support an assumption that gas suppliedĀ by the project would replace coal in globalĀ markets.

In order to address the global climate crisis,Ā emissions from all sources of fossil fuelĀ must be reduced to zero by mid-century.Ā Building and operating this project will undermine that goal. This paper provides the clear climate rationale against the project going ahead.

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See also these other briefings on greenhouse gas emissions:


  • When are they ever going to learn, guess money is more important to them, then clean air. It seems they don’t even care about their own family’s who are also going go suffer from this. Please stop before we have no good air to breath at all, not much left now…Thank you.

  • Please stop the Jordan Cove LNG and Pacific Connector Pipeline from being constructed. Oil Change International has just come out with a highly credible and careful report about the greenhouse gas emissions that would result from this project. The project is totally unacceptable to me as a human being with children and grandchildren. New fossil fuel construction will prevent us from achieving the goals of the Paris Climate Accord. It will threaten the lives, health and well being of future generations.

    Please just say NO to this LNG pipeline.

  • I wish to add my voice to these comments. Who would benefit most from the Jordan Cove LNG and Pacific Connector Pipeline? Overseas markets, particularly those in the Pacific Rim. Is that worth the risk of operating a highly explosive pipeline in a direct earthquake and tsunami risk area, near homes and through lands already at high risk for wild fires, while contributing to dangerous greenhouse gas emissions as reported here? No. The risks far exceed the benefits to Oregon and its communities, and far beyond.

  • our only hope is a full freeze on all new fossil fuel construction NOW! We can create real jobs that actually benefit the planet here.

  • This report ignores a large number of existing truths regarding natural gas use. Here are a couple:

    1) China, Korea and other north asian countries utilize natural gas primarily as a replacement for coal as a heating fuel which is something that wind and solar canā€™t provide. In regards to natural gas for electricity China derived a mere 4% of its electricity from natural gas.

    2) The report cites the northeast German grid as an example of intermittent renewables penetration without grid disruption while failing to recognize Germanyā€™s increased reliance on coal over the last decade and their use of the greater European grid as dumping ground of surplus renewable generation that cannot be used or stored in Germany itself. Do they really think that increased coal consumption to firm intermittent renewables is a good model? That is Chinaā€™s current model as well.

    3) The bar graph showing the massive reduction in emissions from coal to gas switching in the middle of the pamphlet is very difficult to ignore no matter how much they try to obfuscate. The quickest and most reliable way to make immediate and meaningful progress in co2 emissions is coal to gas switching. The surface footprint, intermittentancy and low energy density of renewables make it difficult to solve agw with renewables alone without understanding energy use outside of the electricity sector and the continued primacy of baseload generation.

  • Thanks for the comment. You are right that currently gas is used more for heating than power in North Asia. But we are discussing the future not the past or present. Gas use in the power sector is on the rise and as the region looks increasingly to LNG imports the target for those imports is increasingly the power sector. We are addressing the key talking points of LNG export proponents, who tend to use a narrow aperture for comparing gas and coal GHG emissions from power generation, measuring emissions within the plant fenceline, rather than the full life cycle.

    The peer-reviewed literature we refer to in this briefing indicates that this comparison misinforms and the actual emissions reductions resulting from LNG exports are likely marginal and can actually be negative (or rather, emissions can be higher as a result of LNG exports.).

    We certainly do not think that increasing coal consumption to firm intermittent renewables is a good model. Again, looking forward, noting that Jordan Cove would operate from 2024 to at least 2050 and beyond, we believe storage, demand management and other emerging technologies will increasingly take up this role, more efficiently, more cost effectively and with actual emission reductions. It really is no longer credible to assert that gas-fired baseload is the only way to solve this problem.

    Finally, the chart you discuss in point 3 shows emissions in the power sector only. We agree that heating is an issue, one that will take longer to solve. But we are focused here on the power sector. However, whether for heating or power, the nature of climate change, and the temperature change targets set in the Paris Agreement, mean that there is a finite, cumulative quantity of emissions that can be absorbed in the atmosphere beyond which the limits are surpassed. Therefore, the fact that switching to gas is quick is irrelevant. And if the net lifecycle emissions reduction is marginal, or non-existant then it is certainly not reliable . It makes no sense to invest billions in gas plant that cannot be used for more than a decade. Indeed, the investors are not investing that capital with a view to the plants being shut in before their economic potential is fulfilled. It makes more sense to build the zero emissions energy system now even if it means keeping existing coal plants running a bit longer than if we replace them quickly with gas. Coal is dirty and must go. But gas is not a cure. It’s barely a band aid. I think if you look broadly at the literature on gas and GHG emissions and targets, it is pretty clear that we crossed the so called bridge a while ago. We’re on the other side and we need to focus on the real solution.

    This debate must move from the 1990s-2010 talking points about baseload, intermittent renewables and bridge fuels. Discussion of energy transition should focus on the impressive progress made this decade with renewables and storage technology and where it is going, rather than where it’s been. I would highly recommend reading this piece and others by the same author.

    Again, thank you for your comment, we always appreciate discussion.

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