ONE of the many companies seeking to cash in on the export of liquefied natural gas (LNG) billed itself as a provider of a fuel that’s both environmentally responsible and profitable during a massive telephone conference call last night.
Spectra Energy staged what it called an “interactive townhall” to explain plans for a 48-inch diameter pipeline that would run approximately 850 kilometres from the northeastern BC gas fields to an LNG export plant at Prince Rupert.
An exact route has yet to be determined, but company officials have said so far the pipeline would emerge from the northeast around the Cranberry Junction area north of Terrace and then through the Nass Valley region on its way to the coast.
Spectra, a pipeline company with operations in Canada and the United States, would build and maintain the pipeline as part of a 50/50 partnership with the BG Group, an international company that would operate the Prince Rupert LNG plant and buy all of the gas the line could provide.
Doug Bloom, in charge of Spectra’s western Canadian operations, said company was seeking the opinions of people in the region about the best way to build the pipeline.
But as much as Bloom said Spectra wanted to get the opinions of northerners, he was clear the company wanted to be part of a growing LNG export market to Asia, centering on China, Korea and Japan.
Spectra views itself as being an “environmentally response energy source,” he said.
And, in what might be taken as a reference to the provincial government’s dispute with Alberta about a share of the royalties from crude oil that would flow through the Enbridge Northern Gateway pipeline, Bloom said with a Spectra line, “with natural gas you can be sure BC will get its fair share.”
Bloom responded to a series of questions from those invited to be part of the Spectra conference call.
He told one person who questioned the export of gas and oil that BC has an abundance of natural gas.
“We can be part of a more global solution to move away from higher carbon or dirty fuels to natural gas,” said Bloom.
And Bloom did remind people that Spectra’s project development was still in its early days.
So far, Spectra says a pipeline would generate more than 4,000 jobs during the construction phase and 50 to 60 jobs afterward.
An estimated 75,000 automated phone calls were made asking people to join in on the conference call and approximately one-third of those called responded. And of those who resonded, approximately 1,700 took part in the question and answer session.
The Spectra-BG pipeline and LNG plant plan for Prince Rupert is the second to be announced this year.
Petronas, which is owned by the Malaysian government, also wants to build a pipeline to Prince Rupert and an LNG plant in the area.
That’s contingent upon the completion of a $5.2 billion deal to buy Progress Energy.
Neither Petronas nor Progress are providing details of their intended pipeline route but have identified a location on Lelu Island, near Prince Rupert, for the LNG plant.
There are also three planned LNG projects at Kitimat, two of which would require pipelines – one in which Apache has a controlling stake and the other in which Shell is the dominant player.
A smaller project would use the existing but underutilized Pacific Northern Gas pipeline.
As part of its plans, Spectra has opened an office in Terrace, employing two public relations people, one of whom is Graham Genge, formerly the executive director of the Kermodei Tourism Society.
Spectra’s public relations team working on the pipeline project includes Evan Saugstad, who was the mayor of Chetwynd until he retired from civic politics last year. He’s also the chair of the Northern Development Initiative Trust.