In our opinion: Ridley propane facility a perfect storm of interests

Canadian companies can’t solely rely on U.S. interest in their products and resources anymore

Comments made by AltaGas executive vice-president John Lowe on the company’s agreements and sub-lease of land with Ridley Terminals (RTI) in this week’s Northern View story are a familiar tune to industry professionals here on the West Coast.

The need to find new markets, and getting Canada’s natural resource products to market has always been a challenge for resource-based corporations in the past, thanks to a myriad of reasons, one of which is that Canada has always had a willing and able buyer of oil, propane and everything else by our neighbours to the south, the United States.

But that relationship can be taken for granted no more.

As Lowe explains, the U.S. now has a surplus of propane thanks to domestic shale gas production.

The Keystone XL pipeline has been all but killed by U.S. President Barack Obama. This has been anything but welcome news to proponent TransCanada and the company is suing the Obama administration due to being “unjustly deprived of the value of its multi-billion dollar investment by the U.S. administration’s action”.

Canadian companies can’t solely rely on U.S. interest in their products and resources  anymore, which is why executives like Lowe are looking to Asia, and why the Port of Prince Rupert is increasingly becoming an integral part of the conversation in getting Canadian products to world markets.

AltaGas had been looking for a proper site for a West Coast propane export facility for years.

RTI has just started exploring new products in the wake of sinking coal demand and prices.

The Prince Rupert Port Authority has made diversification its No. 1 mandate in the next 10 years.

In a world characterized by uncertainty in the energy sector, the more clients RTI and the Port of Prince Rupert can take on, the better-positioned they will be when a number of those terminals experience a sustained drop in performance.

Those talks at the table couldn’t have taken very long with AltaGas, the Port and RTI all on the same side of it.