District of Kitimat Council tonight (March 4, 2013) approved building permits for the KMLNG work camp at the old West Fraser Eurocan paper mill site.
The first phase of the camp, called 1A will have 155 beds, followed by a second camp, called 1B with 145 beds. Council also approved a second phase, Camp 2, which will have an additional 300 beds. The camp will consist of single-storey, 44 bed dormitories, similar to those now being used at the Rio Tinto Alcan Kitimat Modernization project, a couple of kilometres away.
“This camp will support the construction of the LNG terminal,” KM LNG’s Ron Link told council, “the focus right now is a 600 man camp. Beyond that, if the final investment decision is approved, it will eventually grow to 2,800.
To build the camp KMLNG will have to demolish some of the remaining blow pipes and chip screening facilites that are there.
“Under the regulations it is a contaminated site and we have a company called Constega Rovers that are participating in sampling the site. It is certainly our attention to clean it up.
If the full 2,800 bed camp is built, the remaining part of the facility will be directly west of the current proposed campsite.
Later in the meeting council continued to debate the contenious issue of an over all camp policy for the District of Kitimat and voted to instruct district staff to “bring back a calendar with the process and dates for discussing camp policy.”
Staff would prepare a document indicating where camps are presently permitted within the District of Kitimat followd by a committee of the whole meeting dedicated to the pros and cons of camps within the district and perferred locations, services provided by the district and size limits.
There will likely be both a public town hall and a “public meeting” of council to discussion the issues later in the spring,
The debate was prompted bya proposal from the PTI Group to build a large “lodge style” work camp within the boundaries of the residential part of Kitimat, near the hospital and City Centre Mall. The PTI proposal would require amendments to both zoning and the Official City Plan. The KMLNG and RTA camps are in areas zoned for industrial use and would not be affected by a change to the official plan for the residential area.
The Haisla Nation, the federal government and the province of British Columbia have signed an agreement that opens the way for liquified natural gas development on Haisla territory on Douglas Channel.
The federal government also announced new regulations under the the First Nations Commercial and Industrial Development Act (FNCIDA). The regulations are necessary because First Nations are still governed by provisions of the century old Indian Act and reserve land is outside of provincial jurisdiction.
The agreement was announced at a news conference in Vancouver today, January 22, 2013. At this point it mainly concerns the Kitimat LNG project (also known as KM LNG)
The tripartite agreement with the Government of Canada, Government of British Columbia and Haisla Nation “ensures administrative, monitoring and compliance activities for the LNG facility are performed and enforced by provincial officials.”
The news release also quotes Haisla Chief Counsellor Ellis Ross as saying: “Kitimat LNG offers new, important and sustainable economic opportunities which the Haisla people are eager to embrace. We have seen new jobs, business opportunities, and skills training come to our people since KM LNG signed its agreement with us, and we know that the agreement signed today with Canada and BC is a milestone in making the project a reality. On behalf of the 1,700 Haisla people, I thank both governments for their commitment to this important agreement and the better future it is bringing our people.”
The federal news release goes on to quote BC Community, Sport and Cultural Development Minister Bill Bennett as saying: “The BC Government is working with industry and First Nations to foster economic growth through the expansion of our province’s natural gas sector. I would like to thank the Government of Canada and the Haisla Nation for working with us to move the Kitimat LNG facility another step forward.”
The federal release also quotes executives from both major companies involved in the Kitimat LNG project, Apache and Chevron. Chevron recently took over operating control of the project from Apache when that company had difficulty finding customers in Asia for the LNG.
The Government of Canada, Government of BC and the Haisla Nation have shown exceptional leadership and support towards BC’s new LNG industry” said Tim Wall, President of Apache Canada. “This regulatory agreement builds on the many other agreements with the Haisla that has led to jobs, training, education and economic development in Kitimaat Village.”
“I want to congratulate the Haisla First Nation, the Governments of Canada and British Columbia, and Apache Canada for their shared leadership in finalizing the regulations governing the Kitimat LNG facility site,” said Jeff Lehrmann, president, Chevron Canada Limited. “We look forward to working with the Haisla First Nation, both governments, other First Nations and local communities to realize the project’s long-term economic potential.”
In remarks prepared for the meeting Canada’s Aboriginal Affairs minister John Duncan was quoted as saying
The proposed project will provide Canada’s energy producers with a doorway to overseas markets, in addition to creating jobs and economic development opportunities not just for the Haisla First Nation, but the entire northwest region of British Columbia.
That’s good news for members of the Haisla Nation, good news for British Columbia, and good news for all Canadians.
These regulations are passed under the First Nations Commercial and Industrial Development Act, known as FNCIDA, which allows the federal government to develop regulations for complex commercial and industrial development projects on reserve in partnership with First Nations and Provincial governments.
For First Nations, FNCIDA can remove the barriers they face in pursuit of economic development opportunities, while providing the certainty investors require, and assuring the community that the necessary oversight measures are in place.
Together with the Province of British Columbia and the Haisla Nation, the Government of Canada has also signed an agreement which ensures administrative, monitoring and compliance activities for the facility are performed and enforced by provincial officials who have the necessary experience and expertise.
As a result, the regulatory pieces are now in place for project to proceed.
To protect the environment as it relates to natural gas production, together with the Province of British Columbia we have completed an environmental assessment pursuant to the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act. With our partners, we will ensure that the LNG plant is designed and built to industrial safety standards and that the operation is properly regulated
Apache has a new partner in the Kitimat LNG project, Chevron Canada Ltd and, in effect, Chevron is taking over the project from Apache who has been unable to find customers for the liquified natural gas project in Asia.
A news release from Apache announced “a broad agreement with Chevron Canada Limited to build and operate the Kitimat LNG project.”
Chevron Canada and Apache Canada each will become a 50 per cent owner of the Kitimat LNG plant, the Pacific Trail Pipeline and 644,000 gross undeveloped acres in the Horn River and Liard basins. Chevron Canada will operate the LNG plant, which will be located on the northern British Columbia coast, and the pipeline. Apache will continue to develop shale gas resources at the Liard and Horn River basins in north eastern BC.
Encana and EOG Resources — currently 30 percent non-operating partners in Kitimat LNG and Pacific Trail Pipeline — will sell their interests to Chevron and exit the venture. As part of the transaction with Chevron, Apache will increase its ownership of the plant and pipeline to 50 percent from 40 percent.
G. Steven Farris, Apache’s chairman and chief executive officer said in the company news release, “This agreement is a milestone for two principal reasons: Chevron is the premier LNG developer in the world today with longstanding relationships in key Asian markets, and the new structure will enable Apache to unlock the tremendous potential at Liard, one of the most prolific shale gas basins in North America.” “With experience developing LNG projects, marketing expertise and financial wherewithal, Chevron is the preferred coventurer to join Kitimat LNG,” Farris said. “Apache has a proven record in finding and developing shale gas resources in Canada and is the logical operator for the upstream elements of the joint venture.”
In its news release, Chevron quoted vice chairman George Kirkland as saying: “The Kitimat LNG development is an attractive opportunity that is aligned with existing strategies and will drive additional long-term production growth and shareholder returns.”
“This investment grows our global LNG portfolio and builds upon our LNG construction, operations and marketing capabilities. It is ideally situated to meet rapidly growing demand for reliable, secure, and cleaner-burning fuels in Asia, which are projected to approximately double from current levels by 2025.”
The two-train (stage) Kitimat LNG Project is still working through the Front-End Engineering and Design (FEED) phase. Construction has continued at the Bish Cove site throughout the summer but has slowed down to the uncertainty over the future of the project and some environmental problems.
Current plans call for two liquefaction trains, each with expected capacity of 5 million tons of LNG per annum (about 750 million cubic feet of gas per day). Kitimat has received all significant environmental approvals and a 20-year export license from the Canadian federal government.
The 290-mile (463-km) Pacific Trail Pipeline is planned to provide a direct connection between the Spectra Energy Transmission pipeline system and the Kitimat LNG terminal.
While the Apache release says: “The project has strong support from many of the First Nations along the route,” there is no support at this moment from the Wet’suwet’en, in the area from Burns Lake through Smithers to the mountains, because some houses are strongly opposed to the pipeline on their traditional territory.
In the Apache news release, Farris says: “”We want to thank and acknowledge EOG and Encana for their contribution to the development of the Kitimat project. We appreciate the hard work of many employees and contractors to advance the project to this stage and the strong support the plant and pipeline projects have received from local communities, provincial and federal officials and the Haisla and other First Nations.
“Construction of the plant and pipeline will have a significant economic impact, and the operational phase will provide opportunities for employment as well as royalties and tax revenues for the Federal, Provincial and local governments for many years,” he said. “Chevron and Apache will continue to develop this project in a safe and environmentally responsible manner.”
As the news releases point out Chevron is a major player in Australia’s LNG projects, considered by many to be Canada’s rival in finding market for natural gas in Asia. Chevron is the operator and led marketing efforts at Wheatstone, a two-train plant with capacity of 8.9 million tons of LNG a year that is expected to commence operations in 2016. Chevron also operates the Gorgon LNG project in Australia and LNG Angola.
Much of the media attention is also on the deal for the natural resources northeastern BC, with, Chevron Canada acquiring approximately 110,000 net acres in the established Horn River Basin from Encana, EOG and Apache, and approximately 212,000 net acres in the Liard Basin from Apache. Chevron Canada Limited and Apache will each hold a 50 percent interest and Apache will operate these two natural gas resource developments.
In its news release, Encana concentrates on the natural gas deal, quoting Randy Eresman, Encana’s President & CEO, “This investment by Chevron, a multinational LNG player, represents a key step in the development of LNG export from Western Canada. Our main goal since we first acquired an interest in Kitimat LNG almost two years ago was to help ensure the progression of this project towards its development. While we are no longer a direct participant in this project, we continue to support LNG export as vital to diversifying markets for North American natural gas.”
The company goes on to say that: “The sale of Encana’s interest in the proposed Kitimat LNG export facility is consistent with the company choosing to focus on its core business. In addition, this transaction reduces Encana’s future capital commitments. The proceeds from this transaction will help to strengthen the balance sheet and provide further financial flexibility to fund capital programs and develop key and emerging resource plays.”
The Financial Post points out that “the Chevron deal leaves most of the LNG projects in the hands of foreign companies, which have competing interests in LNG projects across the world.” That means that the Haisla Nation, with its partnership with the BC LNG project, is one of the few Canadian players left in the LNG scramble.
PetroChina went on a multi-billion dollar natural gas buying spree Thursday, Dec. 13, 2012, picking up shares in operations in both Canada and Australia.
In Canada, Encana, one of the partners in the Kitimat LNG project, signed a joint venture arrangement with Phoenix Duvernay Gas, a wholly owned subsidiary of PetroChina, to explore and develop Encana’s extensive undeveloped Duvernay naturgal gas holdings in west-central Alberta. According to an Encana news release, Phoenix will gain a non-controlling 49.9 per cent interest in Encana’s approximately 445,000 acres in the Duvernay play for total consideration of C$2.18 billion.
Hours earlier, PetroChina agreed to pay $1.63 billion for BHP Billiton’s 10 per cent share for an Australian LNG development, known as Browse, that like the KM LNG project in Kitimat had been delayed by the uncertainty in the LNG market. The other partners in the Browse are Woodside Petroleum, Chevron Corporation, Royal Dutch Shell and BP.
Encana says the PetroChina/Phoenix investment is significant for the Duvernay, which Encana describes as a “liquids rich play” with potential for natural gas, butane and oi development.
THE Encana release quotes Randy Eresman, Encana President & CEO. “A transaction of this magnitude keeps us on track to create a more diversified commodity portfolio and maintain our balance sheet strength. It is a strong endorsement of Encana’s position as a reliable long term partner.”
The release also quotes Zhiming Li, Phoenix’s President & Chief Executive Officer, as saying The Duvernay project will combine Phoenix’s integrated upstream and downstream capabilities and financial resources with Encana’s proven resource play hub expertise. This joint venture will build a foundation for the successful development of the Duvernay play and help to diversify our business portfolio. Encana is our ideal long term partner for the development of our future natural gas business.”
The company goes on to say:
Having entered into several joint venture transactions in 2012, these types of arrangements have become an important part of Encana’s business model. Joint ventures help the Company to achieve a highly efficient deployment of capital throughout its vast exploration and development asset base as Encana transitions to a more diversified portfolio of commodities.
Significantly, the Encana release, while talking about LNG development and export, it makes no mention of the Kitimat KM LNG project, instead looking south to Louisiana.
These relationships have the potential to increase natural gas demand as a number of Encana’s partners are actively exploring opportunities to export liquefied natural gas (LNG), while some are industrial consumers looking to transition to natural gas as fuel for their operations. An example is a recent agreement with Nucor Energy Holdings (Nucor) which is designed to support Nucor’s increased use of natural gas for its facilities, such as its direct reduced iron facility currently under construction in Convent, Louisiana.
Reports say PetroChina paid a premium price for the Australian Browse natural gas project, anticipating that if it comes on stream, as planned in 2018, the current glut in the natural gas market will have eased and once again LNG will be a seller’s market.
The Browse project at James Price Point on the north-western coast of Australia is facing similar opposition to projects in British Columbia, including some of the site’s aboriginal landowners and from some environmental groups.
The opposition to the Australian Browse project, according to reports, reflects a split in the local aboriginal community. While Wikipedia says that 60 per cent of the local aboriginal people voted in favour of the project, there is also fierce opposition, according to the Australian Mining Journal, which reported in 2009:
[A] number of Traditional Owners, as part of the Save The Kimberley organisation, issued a statement which said there is not unanimous support for this site.
In a signed declaration, Traditional Owners have affirmed that they do not support the imposition of an industrial site on their country and will legally challenge the authenticity of any agreements entered into by the Kimberley Land Council supporting the proposal.
The statement said that “…many local Indigenous people are disgusted by the apparent abandonment of the established process put in place by the previous State government. Concerns include the threats made earlier in the year by the Premier regarding compulsory acquisition of land and the pre-empting of the Joint State and Commonwealth environmental and cultural assessment process via announcements by Woodside and the Premier.”
A company called Woodside Petroleum, which leads the LNG venture wants to build the “greenfield” onshore terminal but is facing competition from Shell’s proposed offshore floating LNG “given the land access challenges and soaring development costs in Australia,” even though Shell also has a stake in the Browse project.
LNG Partners LLC, of Houston, one of the backers of Douglas Channel Energy, the BC LNG Douglas Channel Project, a partnership between LNG firms and the Haisla Nation, has signed a preliminary deal with Golar LNG for two tankers.
On October 10, Golar entered into a 90 day Vessel Charter Option Agreement with LNG Partners LLC (Houston, TX) for the provision of two newbuild LNG carriers under long term contract to deliver LNG production from the Douglas Channel LNG Project in British Columbia (BC), Canada.
The Douglas Channel Project, in which LNG Partners is an equity owner, is a proposed liquefaction facility on the west bank of the Douglas Channel, within the district of Kitimat, BC. In addition to prospectively providing two vessels, the agreement confers certain preferential rights for Golar to participate in the project with LNG Partners LLC by way of infrastructure investment or LNG offtake.
In the same report, Golar LNG reported operating income of $70.2 million for the third quarter of 2012, an increase of 21 per cent from the second quarter.
Golar, which has its headquarters in Hamilton, Bermuda, says that since 2001, it has grown from a fleet of six LNG Carriers focused on LNG transportation, to a fleet of 13 vessels (with 13 newbuilds due from quarter three 2013), dedicated to both LNG transportation and midstream floating solutions.
The latter means that Golar is working on what the industry calls Floating Storage & Regasification Units (FSRU). LNG is transferred to the FSRU either for storage or where the low-temperature liquified natural gas is heated back to a gaseous state.
The FSRU storage tanks are generally made from aluminium.
Golar’s report also reflects the weakness in the LNG markets, a factor that is slowing development of the Kitimat LNG projects.
Golar says “a bearish cargo market [for shipping] prevailed in the third quarter with falling prices and weak demand in the Far East. Chartering activity remained thin and lacked direction and consequently, short-term charter rates experienced a correction from rates seen earlier in the year.”
It goes on to say:
Looking to the fourth quarter, weak Far East demand may result in additional vessels being released into the market, however, with limited available modern undedicated vessels a resumption in interest from buyers could very easily pull rates upward again.
As for the world LNG market, Golar says “downward pressure on pricing was experienced primarily due to high inventory levels that persisted East of Suez.”
It also says that more LNG projects are coming onstream which could provide potential competition for Kitimat:
New LNG supply will soon be coming to the market with the commissioning of Angola LNG in the Atlantic Basin. Despite delays at the West African project during the third quarter, exports are expected to start early in the New Year. This represents a set-back of about ten months from the original target date for the country’s first LNG project.
In the Far East, ConocoPhillips and Origin Energy announced the sanctioning of a second train at its Australia Pacific LNG project. The project is planning to bring the first train on late in 2015 with the second train following in 2016. Both trains will be sized at 4.5 million tonnes. Additionally, during the quarter Chevron made positive statements about proceeding with a fourth train at its Gorgon LNG project in Barrow Island, Western Australia. There are currently three trains at Gorgon under construction totalling 15.6 million tonnes.
In addition to Angola, given imminent start-up of the project, supply projects under construction in both the Atlantic and Pacific Basin have reached close to 100 million tonnes, with construction officially beginning at Cheniere’s Sabine Pass LNG export facility.
It was the decision by Cheniere to sell LNG to the Far East markets based on North American prices rather than the higher Japanese price that led to a further delay by Apache earlier this year to give the final go-ahead for the Kitimat LNG project.
Apache is considering selling liquified natural gas shipped to Asia from Kitimat at North American prices, a industry-watching news site reports from an energy conference in Miami.
Argus Media says that Apache and its partners in KM LNG, EOG and Encana are still finding little interest in the original idea of selling the LNG at the Asian base price, called Japan Cleared Customs price, which is a percentage of the price of oil. The idea at that time was that profit would come from the difference between North American market price and the higher Asian price.
That was undercut when another group, Cheniere Energy, decided to sell natural gas to Asia from its Sabine Pass export terminal in Louisiana based on the “Henry Hub” North American market price for natural gas, plus a 15 per cent surcharge and a reservation fee.
Argus says Encana’s president for US operations Jeff Wojahn told investors at a Bank of America Merrill Lynch Global Energy Conference in Miami that the Kitimat developers are now considering “options typical for the Gulf coast export projects.”
Argus also quotes Apache manager of investor relations Castlen Kennedy as saying: ““Kitimat is progressing and we will announce a final investment decision (FID) soon. The local government is very supportive of us.”
Argus quotes Encana’s Wojahn as saying the FIB will come in the first quarter of 2013, using their own natural gas supplies. “All three of the partners have assets in the Horn River so it’s a natural area of development for the play. And the Horn River basin is a world-class shale gas basin, it’s waiting for an LNG pump, so it’s really positioned well.”
So far there is no news release on the Apache site and no other media has matched the Wall Street Journal story.
Analysts are blaming the decision on the recent move by some players in the energy industry to sell natural gas to Asia at low North American prices, rather than the world price, which is determined as a percentage of the price of oil. A move by Asian countries to buy LNG at the lower North American market price would undercut the profitability of any LNG export project through Kitimat.
TransCanada plans a rugged over-mountain route for its proposed Coastal Gaslink pipeline to the Shell Canada liquified natural gas project in Kitimat, BC, company officials said Monday, Oct. 15, 2012, in two presentations, one to District of Kitimat Council and a second at a community town hall briefing.
Rick Gateman, President of Coastal GasLink Project, a wholly owned TransCanada subsidiary told council that the project is now at a “conceptual route” stage because TransCanada can’t proceed to actual planning until it has done more detailed survey work and community consultations.
At the same council meeting, documents from Shell Canada notified the District that it has formally applied to the National Energy Board for an export licence for the natural gas.
Gateman told council that since the pipeline itself will be completely within the province of British Columbia, it comes under the jurisdiction of the British Columbia Environmental Assessment process and the BC Oil and Gas Commission and that the NEB will not be involved in approving the pipeline itself.
At first, the Coastal Gas Link pipeline would be connected to the existing Nova Gas Transmission system now used (and being expanded) in northeastern British Columbia.
From Vanderhoof, BC to west of Burns Lake, the Coastal GasLink pipeline would be somewhat adjacent to existing pipelines and the route of the proposed Enbridge Northern Gateway bitumen pipeline and the proposed Pacific Trails natural gas pipeline.
Somewhat south of Houston, however, the pipeline takes a different route from the either the Northern Gateway or Pacific Trails Pipeline, going southwest, avoiding the controversial Mount Nimbus route.
Howard Backus, an engineering manager with TransCanada told council that the route changes so that Coastal GasLink can avoid “congestion” in the rugged mountain region.
Backus said that the Pacific Trails Pipeline for Apache and its partners in the Kitimat LNG project “is skirting” Nimbus while Enbridge plans to tunnel through the mountain. That tunnel is one of the most controversial aspects to the Northern Gateway project. The local environmental group Douglas Channel Watch has repeatedly warned of the dangers of avalanche and geological instability in the area where the Northern Gateway pipeline emerges from the tunnel. Enbridge has challenged Douglas Channel Watch’s conclusions in papers filed with the Northern Gateway Joint Review panel.
Under TransCanada’s conceptual route, the pipeline heads southwest and then climbs into the mountains, crossing what Backus calls “a saddle” (not a pass) near the headwaters of the Kitimat River. The pipeline then comes down paralleling Hircsh Creek, emerging close to town, crossing the Kitimat River and terminating at the old Methanex plant where Shell plans its liquified natural gas plant. (That means that if the conceptual plans go ahead, the TransCanada pipeline would climb into the mountains, while Pacific Trails finds a way around and Enbridge tunnels).
Backus told council that going north “created more issues,” but did not elaborate.
Backus assured people at the town hall that energy companies have a lot of experience in building pipelines in mountainous areas, including the Andes in South America.
Asked by a local businessman at the town hall if it was possible to build a road along the route of the pipeline, Backus said the mountain areas would be too steep. Any pipeline maintenance would have to be done by tracked vehicle, he said.
Gateman told council that the pipeline would be buried along its entire route. If Shell increases the capacity of its LNG facility in Kitimat, the Coastal Gaslink pipeline could increase to 3.4 billion cubic feet a day or perhaps even more. For the initial capacity, the company will have one compressor station at the eastern end of the line. If capacity increases or if the route requires it, there could be as many as five additional compressor stations. (TransCanada’s long term planning is based on the idea that Shell will soon be adding natural gas from the rich Horn River Formation also in northeastern BC to the Kitimat export terminal.)
TransCanada will begin its field work, including route and environmental planning and “community engagement” in 2013 and file for regulatory approval in 2014. Once the project is approved, construction would begin in 2015.
Gateman said that TransCanada is consulting landowners along the proposed right of way and “on a wide area on either side.” The company also is consulting 30 First Nations along the proposed route. Gateman told council, “We probably have the most experience of any number of companies in working directly with and engaging directly with First Nations because of our pipelines across Canada.”
(Despite Gateman’s statement, the TransCanada maps showed that the Coastal Gaslink Pipeline would cross Wet’suwet’en traditional territory and officials seemed to be unaware of the ongoing problems between Apache and the Pacific Trails Pipeline and some Wet’suwet’en Houses who oppose that pipeline).
Gateman told council that the pipeline would be designed to last at least 60 years. He said that in the final test stages, the pipeline would be pressured “beyond capacity” using water rather than natural gas to try and find if any leaks developed during construction.
He said that the company would restore land disrupted by the construction of the pipeline, but noted that it would only restore “low-level vegetation.” Trees are not permitted too close to the pipeline for safety reasons.
TransCanada made the usual promises the region has heard from other companies of jobs, opportunities for local business and wide consultations. (TransCanada may have learned lessons from the botched public relations by the Enbridge Northern Gateway. A number of Kitimat residents have told Northwest Coast Energy News that TransCanada was polling in the region in mid-summer, with callers asking many specific questions about environment and the spinoffs for communities).
Councillor Phil Germuth questioned Gateman about the differences between a natural gas pipeline and a petroleum pipeline. Gateman replied that the pipelines are pretty much the same with the exception that a natural gas pipeline uses compressor stations while a petroleum pipeline uses pumping stations. Gateman did note that the original part of the controversial Keystone XL pipeline that would carry bitumen through Alberta and US mountain states to Texas was a natural gas pipeline converted to carry the heavier hydrocarbons.
Although the natural gas projects have, so far, enjoyed wide support in northwestern British Columbia, environmental groups and First Nations have raised fears that sometime in the future, especially if there is overcapacity in natural gas lines, that some may converted to bitumen, whether or not Northern Gateway is approved and actually goes ahead.
Shell application to NEB
In a fax to District of Kitimat council, Shell Canada Senior Regulatory Specialist Scot MacKillop said that the Shell had applied to the National Energy Board on September 25, 2012 for a licence to export LNG via Kitimat for the next 25 years.
The Shell proposal, like the previous Kitimat LNG and BC LNG proposals, are export applications, unlike the Enbridge Northern Gateway which is a “facility application.”
In its letter to Shell’s lawyers, the NEB took pains to head off any objections to the project on environmental or other grounds by saying:
the Board will assess whether the LNG proposed to exported does not exceed the surplus reaming after due allowance has been made for the reasonably foreseeable requirements for use in Canada. The Board cannot consider comments that are unrelated…such as those relating to potential environmental effects of the proposed exportation and any social effects that would be directly related to those environmental effects.
At the District of Kitimat Council meeting on Monday, October 1, as part of Mayor Joanne Monaghan’s regular “good news” briefing, she told council that the Kitimat LNG project continues to “progress positively.” The news from Calgary on Tuesday, however, was not as promising.
Both Bloomberg News and the Calgary Herald reported that Apache, which owns 40 per cent of the KM LNG partnership is worried about a recent decision by a rival gas company to sell natural gas to world markets at low North American prices rather than, as been customary up until now, as percentage of the world oil price. That differential gives the North American gas companies a profit in Asia and it is that profit difference that makes Kitimat attractive for LNG projects.
At the council meeting, Monaghan reported, quoting Apache’s Apache’s Manager of Public and Government Affairs Natalie Poole-Moffatt, as saying that Kitimat LNG will be opening a full time community office in downtown Kitimat near the City Centre mall in the near future. Apache says renovations are nearly complete and they will be holding an open house in the near future.
Monaghan said that work on the Kitimat LNG site at Bish Cove continues with blasting to create proper elevation, crushing and sorting of rock and constructing an access route to the forest service road. This summer work began on the two year $25 million upgrades to the old forest service road “which will improve conditions on the road.”
However, in Calgary, the Herald quoted KM LNG vice-president David Calvert as saying “things are going so well that it has been decided to risk spending on clearing ground before completion of the front end engineering and development study and final investment decision.”
But according to several media reports, Calvert told an Energy Roundtable in Calgary on Tuesday that a final go-ahead for Kitimat LNG is not a done deal. the Herald quoted Calvert as saying: “We remain convinced that oil-linked pricing is critical to the viability of our Canadian LNG industry.”
Bloomberg reported that a recent deal by Cheniere Energy Inc. to sell liquefied natural gas based on North American pricing (also known as Henry Hub pricing) means that it is difficult for Apache to find Asian customers to sign the long term LNG contracts needed to make the Kitimat project viable. (Asian LNG prices are based on the “Japan Customs Cleared Price” set by the Japanese government as a percentage of the price of crude oil).
Bloomberg quoted Calvert as saying: “It created quite a ripple through the marketplace,” and Bloomberg said, the Cheniere deal has created “unrealistic expectations.”
Cheniere is less sensitive to prices given its role as a middleman, while Apache, Encana and EOG are producers, for whom the price is very important. One advantage of Kitimat is its west coast location, but that is only a minor cost advantage over Gulf Coast facilities.
The clock is ticking on Kitimat. It sounds like Asian buyers are sitting on the sidelines waiting for lower prices. Right now the U.S. government is sitting on future LNG approvals pending the release of a study around year-end. If the U.S. approves the pending applications, a proverbial flood of LNG will come to market with Henry Hub-based pricing. At that point Kitimat’s owners will be in a tough spot. Kitimat is vital to B.C., but the economics might not work.
In a report to District of Kitimat Council, Apache’s Manager of Public and Government Affairs, Natalie Poole-Moffatt, also reported that on September 19, an oil leak was spotted on a piece of heavy equipment at Bish Cove. The report says;
WestCoast Marine was notified and booms were deployed as a preemptive measure in Bish Cove, no machine oil has migrated to Bish Cove. Environmental crews are on site executing a remediation plan. Both the [BC] Provincial Emergency PLan (PEP) and Aboriginal and Northern Affairs Canada were notified of the incident.
The piece of equipment is currently being repaired and will undergo operational tests to ensure the equipment can function without further concern. Environmental staff will remain on the site 24/7 until remediation is complete.