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USGS: Planned LNG line off California in quake zone

Nick Snow
Washington Editor

WASHINGTON, DC, Dec. 29 -- Pipelines from a proposed deepwater LNG terminal off Southern California face a 16-48% probability of a damaging earthquake within 30 miles of their route, the US Geological Survey reported Dec. 23.

While the US Department of the Interior agency does not make recommendations for or against proposed projects, researchers found that the probability of an earthquake measuring 6.5 or above on the Richter scale along the OceanWay Secure Energy project's planned pipeline route in Santa Monica Bay ranged from 16% at its origin 23 miles offshore to 48% at its planned terminus near Los Angeles International Airport.

"Earthquakes of this size can cause damage over a large region," said USGS in the report, citing impacts of the 1994 Northridge quake, which measured 6.7 points at its epicenter.

It said the proposed deepwater LNG project would be situated in 3,000 ft of water and would be connected to onshore systems by twin 24-in. pipelines to onshore systems 35 miles away. Facilities would include a deepwater port, including submersible buoys, manifolds, and risers.

The deepwater terminal would be 27 miles from the Los Angeles coast and more than 5 miles from shipping lanes, according to projectsponsor Woodside Natural Gas of Santa Monica, Calif. USGS said the regasified LNG would be delivered onshore into an existing Southern California Gas Co. system. Woodside Natural Gas is a subsidiary of Woodside Petroleum Ltd.

The USGS reported that the proposed project's pipelines would face hazards from potential sea floor offsets because they cross at least two faults, as well as tsunamis, erosion or scouring, shallow gas deposit venting, and pipeline settling.

It added that 27 USGS and California Geological Survey scientists reviewed regional geologic hazards identified in a 2007 report prepared by Fugro West Inc. as part of OceanWay's 2007 deepwater port application.

US Rep. Jane Harmon (D-Calif.), in a Mar. 25 letter to USGS, also requested information on geologic hazards that should be considered in connection with the proposed project.

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