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Pembina ships first vessel of LPG out of Prince Rupert

More than $12 million spent to repurpose Watson Island for the LPG export facility
Pembina Prince Rupert Terminal shipped its first vessel full of liquefied petroleum gas on April 9, just less than three years after breaking ground at the re-purposed pulp mill site on Watson Island.

Pembina Prince Rupert Terminal berthed its first ship and loaded the initial shipment of liquefied petroleum gas to be shipped overseas on April 9, just less than three years after breaking ground on Watson Island.

“We completed dry commissioning on March 19 on the facility where it was handed over to operations,” Craig Hilton manager of the Pembina Prince Rupert Terminal told The Northern View.

“That’s where we do all of the testing before we introduce any of the commodity,” Hilton said. “So testing all of our electrical systems, making sure all of our mechanical systems are implemented as required, and it ensures that all of our safety systems are in place prior to the introduction of any hydrocarbons.”

The next step Hilton said, was to load the ship with propane which is transported by rail car to Watson Island from the Redwater facility in Alberta. Once it reaches Prince Rupert the LPG is stored in the Pembina facilities. When the inventory reaches a certain point it is then loaded onboard ‘handysize’ LPG vessels and pumped via hoses into cargo tanks. The vessels can hold and transport 20,000 cubic meters of gas.

Hilton said the integration with the Prince Rupert community during the construction phase, which broke ground in July 2018, was very strong creating benefits to the region with more than 200 construction jobs.

“We’ve just progressed from the construction phase into operations and one of the things to highlight is the benefits to Prince Rupert and area,” Hilton said. “We are here for the long term and we very much see ourselves as being part of the local community.”

The facility life expectancy is more than 30 years and to get there Pembina has worked together with the local community, First Nations, municipal and provincial governments to re-purpose what was a contaminated site, the local terminal manager said.

“Part of that redevelopment, Pembina invested approximately $12 million working with the City of Prince Rupert to remediate the old, abandoned pulp mill site,” Hilton said. “And that brings us to the point where we’re currently at giving us a key connection point in moving our LPG off the West Coast and out to international markets.”

Already Pembina has invested more than $350,000 into local community projects, as well as partnering with Coast Mountain College to implement a gas plant operator training program. The program ran from Sept. 2019 to May 2020.

“We onboarded local talent with local and indigenous candidates. We put them through an intensive seven months training course [after which] they came on board to the facility operations,” Hilton said.

Metlakatla First Nation Employment Coordinator Tara J. Leighton said having a Gas Plant Operator training program available in Prince Rupert has provided opportunities for the community members to learn new employment skills that can be used locally.

“The face-to-face learning distinguished this program and boosted the ability of students to master new information. It’s been great to see the program participants gain confidence in their skill sets and continue to build their knowledge at the new terminal.”

READ MORE: Pembina donates to Prince Rupert Fire Dept.

READ MORE: Pembina announces expansion for Prince Rupert LPG Export Terminal

K-J Millar | Journalist
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