A spokesman for Kinder Morgan, the company proposing to transport coal via train from the Powder River Basin region to a facility at Port Westward for shipping to Asian markets, said Wednesday morning the company is no longer interested in the Port Westward site.

Allen Fore, director of public affairs for Kinder Morgan, made the announcement during the public comment segment of a Port of St. Helens morning meeting at the port’s Columbia City headquarters.

The Port of St. Helens signed separate lease option agreements in January 2012 with Kinder Morgan and Ambre Energy, an Australian company also planning a coal export facility at Port Westward. The Port of St. Helens is the public agency that manages the several-hundred-acre Port Westward Industrial Park north of Clatskanie on the Columbia River.

Kinder Morgan’s proposal called for transporting coal from the Powder River Basin region of Wyoming and Montana by rail to Port Westward. It was the most widely criticized of the two proposals due to the potential negative effect on local Columbia County communities resulting from the presence of mile-long coal trains.

Ambre Energy’s proposal is to transport coal from the Powder River region by rail to the Port of Morrow facility in Boardman. The coal would then be loaded onto enclosed barges and shipped down the Columbia River to the Port Westward site, where it would be transferred to ocean-going vessels for overseas transport. The Ambre Energy proposal is still moving forward.

Kinder Morgan, a Texas-based company with extensive domestic energy transportation holdings, plans to continue its exploration of other possible export sites in the Pacific Northwest, Fore said. He told the port commissioners the site didn’t work for Kinder Morgan’s plans, though he added the company would entertain future business with the port.

“If there is a potential business opportunity, we’ll look at it,” he said. “The time spent here was well worth the effort.”

Kinder Morgan had planned construction of a $150 to $200 million export terminal and had estimated employing 80 full-time jobs to manage and operate the facility, according to the Kinder Morgan website.

Port officials had said the company intended to move an initial volume of 15 million tons of coal annually with the potential to increase that figure an additional 15 million tons in a second phase of operation.

Kinder Morgan estimated the “state-of-the-art” export terminal at Port Westward would have generated annual payroll of $13.6 million per year and would have paid $3.7 million annually in local and state property taxes. The terminal was also expected to result in the generation of more than 150 temporary construction jobs.