Woodside Natural Gas, the Australian company that has proposed a permanent liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminal, OceanWay, in Santa Monica Bay, has suspended the project because of changed energy market conditions.

“We still believe in the long-term value of liquefied natural gas as a new source of clean, reliable and secure energy for Los Angeles,” said Steve Larson, president of Woodside. “But we must acknowledge the impact of the current market, and have notified the regulatory agencies that we are withdrawing our application for the time being.”

On December 18th, Woodside representatives told regulatory agencies that they wanted to suspend work on the OceanWay draft environmental impact statement/report for approximately six months to down-size and improve the project.

Woodside vice president of public and government relations Laura Doll had stated in December that Woodside was reducing the project’s environmental footprint by eliminating one of the two proposed specially equipped ships that would deliver natural gas to the pipeline for distribution to Los Angeles and shortening the on-shore pipeline route (eliminating Phase 2 of the project), as well as making the remaining ship smaller.

“Contrary to what others may claim, our decision to suspend the project for the time being is based solely on dramatic changes in the global market, not anything else,” said Doll of the December 18th decision to suspend work on the project.

“Anyone who is paying attention to events in the world right now understands that severe market changes are forcing many businesses to make difficult but necessary decisions to delay or defer major investment projects.

“We are proud of the level of support our project has already engendered, and we are confident that the ultimate review would confirm that OceanWay offered a truly safe and clean alternative source of energy for Southern California,” said Doll.

Opponents of the project included Los Angeles City Councilman Bill Rosendahl, who represents the 11th Council District, 36th District Congresswoman Jane Harman, whose district includes 20 miles of coastline, and Los Angeles County Supervisor Don Knabe, who represents the Fourth District.

Various environmental groups also opposed the OceanWay project.

“Woodside’s decision to stop trying to build an LNG deepwater port off our coast is great news for the environment and for all Los Angeles residents,” said Tom Ford, executive director of Santa Monica Baykeeper.

“The project was never welcome in Santa Monica Bay and this is my version of a perfect ending, saying good-bye and good riddance,” said Ford.

Marcia Hanscom, who wears several hats pertaining to the environment — vice chair of conservation for the Sierra Club Los Angeles Chapter, co-director of the Ballona Institute, and managing director of Coastal Law Enforcement Action Network (CLEAN) — said, “This is excellent news, as the global impacts of importing foreign fossil fuels which have few environmental regulations for the extraction and transport, cannot be understated.

“The ecologically damaging impacts from this project to the Ballona Wetlands, coastal bay waters and dunes were also of great concern,” Hanscom said.

She also expressed gratitude for the leadership of Harman and Rosendahl on this issue.

The original OceanWay project was proposed to be located 27 miles southwest of Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) using the technology of a buoy system to funnel natural gas from a specially equipped ship into an underwater pipeline for delivery to Los Angeles.

The plan was for two processing ships to dock in Santa Monica Bay, transferring the natural gas to pipelines leading underwater to Playa del Rey at Vista del Mar, continuing under the El Segundo blue butterfly habitat at Pershing Drive, and proceeding under Westchester Parkway near LAX to link up with the first gas transfer station.