New power line needed for LNG project

Would connect Site C to LNG plant at Kitimat

BC Hydro is dusting off plans first proposed years ago to build a power line to Kitimat to service Kitimat LNG should a positive Final Investment Decision be announced.

Kitimat LNG wants to use electricity from BC Hydro instead of natural gas to power its equipment to compress and super-cool natural gas for export overseas.

In using electricity instead of natural gas, Kitimat LNG — a partnership of Chevron and Australian-based Woodside Energy International — is being billed as a way to significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

But Kitimat LNG would first need BC Hydro to build a transmission line to Kitimat – the current 287kv line which runs along the east side of the Kitimat River valley can only provide for BC Hydro’s existing requirements and the LNG Canada plant now under construction.

READ MORE: LNG Canada cost to exceed stated $40 billion price tag

“The proposed [Kitimat] LNG project would require additional capacity beyond that which is currently available in the region,” said BC Hydro official Kevin Aquino last week.

“As such, we’re currently assessing what the potential impact would be in terms of capacity and transmission.”

Aquino stopped short of indicating whether the amount of power needed by Kitimat LNG would come from BC Hydro’s massive Site C project now under construction in northeastern B.C.

“It’s important to note that our electricity system is integrated and does not pinpoint a single generation resource, such as a dam, to a single customer, like an LNG project.”

The electricity required to power the operations of Kitimat LNG would be supplied through our own integrated system,” said Aquino.

Details about how much power Kitimat LNG would need wasn’t provided.

“Customer load information is confidential and commercially sensitive,” Aquino said.

Renewed interest in the Kitimat LNG project surfaced earlier this month when joint venture partners Chevron Canada and Woodside submitted an application to the National Energy Board (NEB) to double the original export goals and extend the export licence from 20 years to 40 years, following a redesign of the original project first developed in the early part of the decade.

The redesign calls for the production of 18 million metric tonnes of liquefied natural gas a year from three “trains” or processing lines.

Natural gas would be pumped from northeastern B.C. through the already-approved but not-yet-started Pacific Trail Pipeline to the Kitimat LNG site at Bish Cove just outside of Kitimat.

There’s no indication of when Kitimat LNG might announce that it is proceeding with its project.

B.C. Hydro’s preparations to provide power to LNG plants at Kitimat were first revealed in 2012 via a document examining long-range requirements around the province.

The crown corporation listed Kitimat LNG, LNG Canada (which is already under construction) and a project since abandoned called BC LNG as potential customers.

READ MORE: Chevron seeks NEB licence that could nearly double production at Kitimat LNG

Then, as now, BC Hydro indicated the one existing 287kv line it has from the Skeena Substation just south of Terrace to the Minette Substation near Kitimat was incapable of handling all potential requirements.

The Skeena Substation is a regional distribution point for power coming into the area via a 500kv line from the Williston Substation near Prince George. A variety of other lines then branch out from the substation to communities around the region.

“One option for meeting these future needs is a new 500kv line linking Williston Substation to Minette Substation for an approximate length of 500 km,” explained the 2012 BC Hydro document in commenting on how it could serve LNG customers.

The Williston Substation is a key BC Hydro facility, serving as a connecting point for power coming from BC Hydro’s existing facilities in the northeast and from Site C when it’s completed.

Chevron Canada communications team lead Leif Sollid said that Kitimat LNG is in discussions with BC Hydro but could not disclose any information on power requirements for the plant at this time.

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