Douglas Channel Energy signs preliminary deal for two LNG tankers

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.

Golar logoGolar LNG, which describes itself on its website as “one of the world’s largest independent owners and operators of LNG carriers” said in its interim results report to shareholders on November 28:


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 is also moving into Liquified Natural Gas production vessels, that is floating ships that produce the LNG than taking it from a shore-based plant.

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.

Spectra Energy, BG Group propose natural gas pipeline to Prince Rupert, creating fourth NW BC LNG project

Spectra Energy Corp of Houston, Texas, today announced that the company has signed a Project Development Agreement with BG Group PLC, based in the United Kingdom, to jointly develop plans for a natural gas transportation system from northeast B.C. to serve BG Group’s potential liquefied natural gas (LNG) export facility in Prince Rupert.

The BG group signed an agreement last February with the Prince Rupert Port Authority  for a feasibility study to develop an LNG terminal at the port.

Spectra Energy BC project map
A map released by Spectra Energy shows the proposed pipeline project from the shale gas fields of northeastern BC to Prince Rupert (Spectra Energy)



A release from Spectra Energy and BG Groupsays each company will initially own a 50 per cent interest in the proposed transportation project. Spectra Energy will be responsible for construction and operation and BG Group has agreed to contract for all of the proposed capacity.

The approximately 850-kilometre, large diameter natural gas transportation system will begin in northeast B.C. and end at BG Group’s potential LNG export facility in Prince Rupert.

A fact sheet released by Spectra says the project would provide 50 to 60 permanent jobs on completion and about 4,000 jobs during construction.

BC Group logoThe Spectra BG project will be the fourth using BC’s strategic position on the Great Circle Route to Asia to export liquified natural gas. TransCanada has signed a deal with Shell for a pipeline, Coastal GasLink, that would initially carry up to 1.7-billion cubic feet a day of gas to the Shell Canada project at Kitimat The Pacific Trails pipeline, could carry more than 1-billion cubic feet a day to the KM LNG partners ship where Apache, EOG and Encana are building a terminal at Bish Cove, south of Kitimat. The fourth project, BC LNG, would use either existing pipelines or share one of the proposed Kitimat pipelines to produce LNG for customers at a barge-based floating terminal at what is sometimes called North Cove, between the KM LNG project at Bish Cove and the proposed Enbridge Northern Gateway project which would be close to the Rio Tinto Alcan smelter.

Spectra Energy LogoThe Spectra release says the new transportation system will be capable of transporting up to 4.2 billion cubic feet per day of natural gas. The project will connect with the Spectra Energy facility at Fort St. John, the centre of the still growing shale gas production and exploration in the northeastern BC.

Greg Ebel, president and chief executive officer, Spectra Energy says in the release:

We are excited to be partnering with BG Group, a recognized world leader in natural gas and more specifically, LNG. This project offers B.C. a unique opportunity to access new markets, strengthen its energy infrastructure, engage stakeholders in economic growth and job creation, and ultimately secure the province’s position as a competitive energy leader.

Furthermore, today’s announcement initiates our next wave of investment opportunity in B.C.  We are ideally positioned to create further value for our investors by leveraging surplus B.C. natural gas supplies and facilitating its export to high-demand markets in Asia. This, in turn, will provide multiple opportunities for further investment in our gathering and processing facilities in the province.

Doug Bloom president of Spectra Energy Transmission West adds in the release:

For more than half a century, Spectra Energy has been a part of communities in B.C. This project will build on our expertise and track record of delivering natural gas responsibly, listening to the needs of Aboriginal and local communities, and protecting the environment, as we help deliver on B.C.’s energy potential.
Working together with affected stakeholders and based on preliminary assessments of environmental, historical, cultural and constructability factors, early conceptual routes have been developed. Spectra Energy and BG Group will continue engaging with interested and affected stakeholders, including Aboriginal and local communities, environmental organizations and regulatory agencies, to further refine the project route.

Spectra Energy Fact Box
Fact box from Spectra Energy on the proposed pipeline to Prince Rupert (Spectra)

As is now common with proposed energy projects for northwestern British Colulmbia, Spectra  has set up a website for consultations Energy for BC.

Spectra says: “The new outreach initiative is designed to engage with stakeholders on the jobs, revenues and environmental benefits that natural gas can create in British Columbia.”
Spectra also makes the usual commitment to “spend the next several years closely conferring with stakeholders and working through the permitting process for the proposed transportation system.”

Spectra Energy Project Fact Sheet

A window of opportunity opens in Japan for Canadian LNG: Alberta Oil


Alberta Oil magazine says in A window of opportunity opens in Japan for Canadian LNG

Nuclear outages in Japan continue to stoke demand for delivering Canadian gas to the Far East. Look for oil- and natural gas-fired generation to offset a precipitous drop in atomic capacity as maintenance work at plants, combined with public safety pressures, keeps a fleet of 54 reactors from running at full capacity, the International Energy Agency (IEA) says. Japan’s nuclear reactors normally account for 27 per cent of the country’s electricity demand, but only 16 were online in August, five months after a massive earthquake rocked the coastal city of Sendai and sent officials scrambling in search of alternatives to the atom.

The country is one of several potential sales destinations for a suite of liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminals taking shape on Canada’s West Coast at Kitimat, British Columbia. Two of the most advanced proposals, including a 10-million-tonne capacity project led by Apache Canada Ltd. and another, smaller co-operative that would ship 1.8 million tonnes abroad annually, are both seeking 20-year export licenses from the National Energy Board….

Links: World hunger for LNG on the rise

Energy Links

Alberta Oil
The clock is ticking on West Coast LNG shipments Nuclear outages in Japan stoke Canadian export plans

The uptick in LNG consumption is potentially good news for a suite of liquefaction plants taking shape on the northwest coast of British Columbia. Japan is one of several potential sales targets for the Apache Canada Ltd.-led Kitimat LNG project, which is currently awaiting approval from the National Energy Board to begin shipping five million tonnes of the stuff annually from a new facility at Bish Cove. Liquefied gas costs spiked 33 per cent after the March 11 quake, Bloomberg reports, and they may rise higher yet.

Competition will be stiff. Canadian forays into LNG will rub shoulders with the likes of ExxonMobil, BG Group Plc and Qatargas, among others, who are likewise clamoring to deliver chilled gas to a power market in need. Just 16 of the country’s 54 reactors were online last month, according to the International Energy Agency. (That’s no small figure, as the atom currently meets 27 per cent of the island’s electricity needs).

Financial Post
LNG on the rise

Liquefied natural gas prices are surging to a three-year high as demand from Japan, China and India outpaces supply increases, boosting sales for producers from BG Group Plc to Exxon Mobil Corp….

North America may export about 5 billion cubic feet a day of LNG, or roughly the combined LNG export capacity of Nigeria and Algeria, globally by 2017 from projects that turn surplus gas from shale-rock formations to LNG for shipment to customers in Asia and Europe, according to the Eurasia Group, a New York- based consultant. That’s about half of the six proposed developments by companies including Cheniere in the U.S. Gulf Coast and British Columbia.

How Kitimat harbour will look if both Northern Gateway and KM LNG go ahead


Detail of a map filed by Enbridge Northern Gateway with the Joint Review Panel showing the foot print of the proposed bitumen terminal and the LNG terminal.  The proposed BC LNG terminal would add a third terminal at North Cove (green text on this map)

A recent filing by the Enbridge Northern Gateway project with the Joint Review Panel shows just what Kitimat harbour and the service area will look like if the liquified natural gas projects go ahead and so does the Northern Gateway.

Three maps show areas where the two pipelines follow the same routes and where they diverge beginning just east of the service centre.  (Larger versions of maps pop up if you click your mouse)

532-EnbridgeLNG4-thumb-500x268-531.jpgIn this map, the Enbridge pipeline is yellow with a black outline, the LNG pipeline is red. Where there are yellow and red alternating squares, that means the two pipelines will follow the same route. Solid orange lines are paved roads,broken orange lines are unpaved roads and the green lines are power lines.

535-EnbridgeLNG3-thumb-500x265-534.jpgJust before the pipelines reach the service centre, they diverge, the yellow Enbridge pipeline following the road route around the periphery of the service centre, while the gas pipeline at first follows the route of the Pacific Trails Pipeline and then snakes off at the hydro substation.  The two pipelines then run parallel just off Haisla Boulevard across from the Rio Tinto Alcan plant. The green line beside the two pipelines marks a hydro line that would be build to power the facilities.

538-EnbridgeLNG2-thumb-500x265-537.jpgThe final map shows the Enbridge pipeline coming into the bitumen/condensate terminal with its large footprint, while the natural gas pipeline continues, crosses Bish Creek and then enters the Bish Cove KM LNG terminal.  If the BC LNG terminal is built at North Cove, just west of the proposed Enbridge Northern Gateway facility, a branch pipeline would go from the main gas pipeline down to that facility. (There were indications at the June NEB hearings that negotiations were under way on “sharing” gas “molecules” between the two groups).

541-EnbridgeLNG5-thumb-500x447-540.jpgFootprint of the Enbridge Northern Gateway plant.

Enbridge photo maps showing Northern Gateway and LNG routes in pdf format

“Front End Engineering” begins for BC LNG


The Hart Energy  E&P (exploration and production) newsletter is reporting that an Overland,  Kansas based company, Black & Veatch,  a multi-billion dollar, employee-owned engineering firm founded in 1915,  is beginning front end engineering (FEED) for the second proposed Kitimat liquified natural gas facility, BC LNG.

Although no information appears on the Black & Veatch website, the newsletter quotes Tom Tatham, the managing director of  Douglas Channel Gas Services Ltd, the company which will contract with energy firms wanting to export through the BC LNG facility as saying:  We are looking to build the majority of the LNG export facility on a standard Panamax barge to minimize the physical and environmental impact in this scenic area.”

(The name Panamax derives from the maximum size that a barge or ship can be to pass through the Panama Canal, which means the LNG from the port of Kitimat could be shipped to anywhere in the world, not just to the projected Asian market)

 Black & Veatch has developed a process called PRICO which Tatham says  is ideal for this type of application because of its smaller footprint and flexible operations.

Black & Veatch’s engineering planning is scheduled to be complete by January 2012 and will provide a “definitive estimate” that will be used for costing  engineering, procurement, construction, testing and commissioning of the facility.

The newsletter quotes  says Dean Oskvig, president and CEO of Black & Veatch “The global LNG export market is extremely cost-competitive,” and  Oskvig says the company`s process will be scalable and thus allow the partnership to bring liquified natural gas to market at a competitive price.

The Black & Veatch website briefly promotes  the PRICO process as simple, flexible, reliable and economic but gives few details.

The company has an Edmonton based Canadian subsidiary.


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NEB gets ready for BC LNG hearings, first step for second Kitimat project


The National Energy Board has announced it will hold hearings on the second proposed liquified natural gas project, saying, the hearings will “consider an application submitted by BC LNG Export Co-operative LLC (BC LNG) for a 20-year licence to export liquefied natural gas (LNG)
from Canada to Pacific Rim markets.”

Once again under the NEB’s rules of procedure, the hearings will be limited to granting the export licence, with or without conditions and will follow the so-called “market-based procedure” set up for the NEB after deregulation of the oil and gas industry in the late 1980s.

This application is based on projections that the demand for natural gas in Pacific Rim markets will continue to increase substantially over the next 20 years. In its application, BC LNG is requesting authorization to export up to 1.8 million tonnes of LNG annually.

The Board will consider, among other issues, the export markets and natural gas supply, the transportation arrangements, and the status of regulatory authorizations.

However in an apparent departure from the KM LNG hearings where energy lawyers challenged environmental and social issues as not included in the mandate for those hearings, these ground rules say they are now”

The Board will also consider the potential environmental effects of the proposed exportation, and any social effects directly related to those environmental effects.

The public has until Sept. 11, 2011 to register with the board for full intervenor status, request to make an oral statement or to submit a letter of comment.

Letter from NEB to BC LNG (pdf)

PNG ratings give hint what of financial markets think of Kitimat

The outlook for Pacific Northern Gas issued by Canada’s Dominion Bond Rating Service on Friday not only gives an indication of the financial health of the company, it also gives a window into what the financial markets think of the prospects for Kitimat and the region,

DBRS gave Pacific Northern Gas “Secured Debentures and Cumulative Redeemable Preferred Share ratings… BBB (low) and Pfd-3 (low), respectively, both with Stable trends,” DBRS said a news release dated June 10, 2011.

DBRS says that like all utilities, PNG has a stable financial outlook, but “it still has a higher level of business risk when compared with other DBRS-rated utilities.”

The DBRS report goes on to say:

Economic conditions in PNG’s Western system remain weak, but are showing signs of improvement, albeit at a slow pace. Signs of economic improvement in the region include Rio Tinto Ltd.’s (Rio Tinto) announcement of an additional $300 million investment on preconstruction activities for the US$2.5 billion proposed modernization of its aluminum smelter in Kitimat, B.C.; the proposed Phase 2 of a new container handling facility at the Port of Prince Rupert; and continued modest growth in the oil and gas sector in the Northeast system area.

The closure of the West Fraser Kitimat [Eurocan] paper mill in 2010 resulted in some loss of customers in the region, which was offset by the increase in customers in the Northeast system service area. Despite the challenges in the Western system area, PNG has been able to maintain a stable customer base.

In the longer term, the competitiveness of natural gas as a fuel and heating source still remains a key focus for PNG, especially in the Western service area; however, residential and commercial electricity rates are expected to rise in the near term according to BC Hydro’s Service Plan. The proposed electricity price increase and current low gas price environment are expected to keep PNG’s delivered natural gas rates competitive with electricity rates in PNG’s Western system.

DBRS also liked the fact that much of the money paid by the KM LNG partners for the Pacific Trail Pipeline was supposed to go PNG shareholders:

In March 2011, PNG completed the sale of its 50% stake in Pacific Trail Pipelines Limited Partnership (PTP) for a gross consideration of $30 million. The Company has declared special dividends of approximately $22 million, which represents all of the initial payment. A final cash payment of $20 million will be paid if the purchasers make a decision to proceed with the construction of the Kitimat LNG export facility in British Columbia.

There is no guarantee that the final payment will be made.

Going forward, if the net proceeds from the second payment are retained and reinvested in the Company, this could have a longer-term positive impact on PNG’s creditworthiness. However, the extent of any credit impact will depend entirely on the amounts to be retained and how they are reinvested.

But as the Northern Sentinel reported, the BC Utilities commission wasn’t so happy with the dividend, especially when it came to the PNG “transportation charges” it levies on consumers and businesses. The Sentinel says Pacific Northern Gas agreed to pay $500,000 toward the transportation charges to avoid a court fight with the BCUC, after the commission questioned why PNG was not passing on some of the money from the sale to lower the charges.

It should be noted that $500,000 is just six per cent of the $30 million net proceeds PNG received for the sale.

In the long term, the DBRS report says: “increase[d] utilization on its Western system, [has] the potential to increase PNG’s margins and lower the average cost of transporting gas for all customers.” “Increased utilization” likely refers to the various liquified natural gas projects that may make further use of PNG facilities.

DBRS says that PNG expansion and diversification plans could eventually lower its financial market risk profile:

“through electricity and renewable energy generation. In 2010, it acquired the 9.8 MW McNair Creek “run of river” hydroelectric generation facility in British Columbia for $17 million. It also recently formed Narrows Inlet Limited Partnership with Skookum Power Corp. to undertake an investment of up to $2.5 million to advance the Narrows Inlet Project to the start of construction. The $190 million project was awarded a 30-year energy purchase agreement with British Columbia Hydro & Power Authority (BC Hydro) in spring 2010.”

As some energy executives have come to realize, but others have ignored,  high PNG natural gas transportation charges are one main reason that the industry is mistrusted, if not hated, across the political spectrum from right to left in northwestern BC, a political constituency that goes far beyond the environmental activists.

At every public meeting on energy and pipeline issues, there are always questions about the PNG transportation charges, even at meetings on the Enbridge bitumen pipeline, which has little do with  the natural gas charges here (although Enbridge is a major consumer natural gas supplier in eastern Canada).

At the information meeting in Kitimat earlier this summer, Thomas Tatham, managing director of BCLNG  Energy Co-operative, which hopes to build the second LNG terminal near Kitimat harbour, promised that his company, using PNG lines, would absorb the transportation charges  for Kitimat consumers.

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