The proposed propane export terminal on Ridley Island may have found a customer for half of its product.
AltaGas Ltd. announced on May 24, that they have signed a memorandum of understanding with Astomos, a Japanese corporation, to take approximately 50 per cent of their propane product from their proposed Ridley Island facility.
“We have the key terms outlined and we’ll be negotiating an agreement over the next several months as we head into the end of the year,” said Dan Woznow, vice president of energy exports for AltaGas.
The company expects to make a final investment decision by the end of 2016, and having an agreement signed with a customer is what Woznow said is the “key piece of the puzzle.”
Japan has a large market for propane. It’s used in homes as the main source for heating and cooking fuel. Woznow estimates there are about 24 million homes — with about 60 million people — using propane.
“They don’t have a lot of pipelines like we do here and so the flexibility in propane in cylinders to move around the country is a key reason,” he said.
Another reason for Japan’s interest is that because propane is made more accessible in cylinders it was the primary source of fuel after the Tohoku earthquake and tsunami in 2011. Woznow said propane is now a strategic reserve commodity.
Other areas of Asia, such as Indonesia, are using kerosene for heating and cooking and they are looking to convert to propane as well. Propane burns cleaner and it doesn’t leave residues if it spills in the water.
AltaGas is currently going through its regulatory process and consulting with First Nations. For a month, the company held community meetings and spoke with city council and the district on the proposed project. The 30 day period for comments on the project closed on May 20.
“The comments we did receive we are going to be incorporating into the next phase for us to develop an environmental evaluation document that will go out publicly and will be reviewed publicly by the regulators. In this case, the Port of Prince Rupert, Transport Canada and Ridley Terminals,” Woznow said.