Chinese distributor of liquefied natural gas Top Speed Energy (TSE) wants to build a processing facility near Terrace, next to the Northwest Regional Airport.
The project, called Skeena LNG, would be located on Qinhuangdao Economic and Technological Development Zone lands within the Skeena Industrial Development Park (SIDP), just west of lands owned by the Kitselas Development Corporation.
TSE sent a letter to area residents near the site on Oct. 16, seeking feedback on a facility that could process 150,000 tonnes of LNG per year – about 0.6 per cent of the capacity of LNG Canada’s multi-billion-dollar facility now under construction in Kitimat.
“We could be up and running in about a year’s time,” says Clark Roberts, chief executive officer of TSE. “The land is beside a natural gas pipeline that has capacity, and beside a clean electric power supply with capacity, and a talented workforce.”
The site is privately owned by Richmond-based Taisheng International Investment Services, the Qinhuangdao agent in Canada. Taisheng purchased the 1,187-acre lands in 2014 and signed a development agreement with the City of Terrace for the property.
The project would process natural gas pumped through an existing line that branches off south to Kitimat from Pacific Northern Gas’ Western Transmission main pipeline running from Summit Lake near Prince George west to Terrace and Prince Rupert. Power to treat and liquefy natural gas would come from a BC Hydro transmission line adjacent to the property that runs to Kitimat.
“We need to get the gas really cold, like 100-150 degrees below zero. Then it turns to liquid, and it just sits there inert. It’s odourless, it’s colourless, you can drop a match on it and it won’t light,” Roberts says.
The frozen product would then be transferred into specialized containers and stored on-site for short periods until it’s loaded onto trucks for delivery to domestic or international markets through the Fairview Container Terminal in Prince Rupert. The containers would then be sent back to the site, where they will be kept for storage and refills.
“There’s also a domestic market. There’s remote [First Nation] communities that are right now burning diesel for their generators, and we’re going to try and convince them to use natural gas generators, which are much cleaner for the environment.”
The goal is to get the facility to 24/7 operations, shipping out approximately 24 containers a day, says Roberts.
While it’s not known how many local jobs could be created, Roberts says TSE will be looking to hire area residents.
“A lot of it is connecting the liquefaction plant to the units to fill up the containers, and then delivering those containers to Prince Rupert, so there’s going to be ongoing work for people in the Terrace area,” he says. “There may be some technical training that’s required, but we would have no problem hiring locally.”
Skeena LNG is small enough for the company to bypass federal and provincial environmental assessments. TSE will instead submit a permit application to the BC Oil and Gas Commission (OGC), a provincial agency.
“It’s called a facility permit application process, and there is an environmental impact study that needs to be done in order to pass, and we are doing that,” Robert says. “The land is cleared, so it’s not impacting a natural site. There’s no creek or waterfront nearby, I mean, it’s not sitting on a waterfront. But a separate environmental assessment by the Ministry of Environment is not required because it’s not big enough to warrant.”
Any required applications will also be sent to the City of Terrace.
David Block, city director of development services, says the permits required are nothing unusual. TSE would need a development permit and a building permit when they get to that stage, and they have to finalize and enter a land lease agreement with Taisheng for the first phase of development.
“Not a lot of construction as far as buildings, but they would need some office space, warehouse/ maintenance building and some storage,” Block says.
No additional roads will be constructed to carry out the proposed activities.
A letter introducing the project was sent to residents living in Jackpine Flats on Oct. 16. Residents and organizations had until Nov. 6 to send comments to TSE. They can also request a meeting with the company.
Terrace resident Rob Hart wrote a letter to B.C. Premier John Horgan and the Ministry of Environment detailing his concerns about the project, including having a micro-LNG facility so close to the airport.
“The people of Jackpine Flats, who live closest to the proposed plant, received a form letter advising them they had three weeks to respond should they have objections,” Hart writes in the letter.
“Why is there not effective notice to the people of the wider Terrace community? Why is there not an environmental review of the connecting pipeline? Why is the time for review, comment, discuss and possibly object so foreshortened as to preclude meaningful public input? Equally important, why is no assistance offered to assist citizens to raise issues of local importance?”
North West Watch, a regional group which examines environmental issues, has stated it will be sending feedback to TSE and the OGC.
This isn’t TSE’s first jump into LNG exports from B.C. to Asian markets. FortisBC, a utility company operating a liquefaction facility on the Fraser River near Vancouver, signed Canada’s first ‘long-term’ supply agreement to produce LNG for export to China with TSE in July.
Under the two-year agreement, 53,000 tonnes of LNG will be shipped from the Tilbury facility in B.C. to China by summer 2021.