Liquefied natural gas (LNG) projects in British Columbia: Key developments in 2022 and what’s next
This article forms part of our Power Perspectives 2023 publication. Download the full publication here.
In the past year, certain liquefied natural gas (LNG) projects in the province saw notable progress. While promising, these developments also underlined the potential for significant energy and transmission infrastructure needs to support proposed electrification of liquefaction processes.
In September 2022, LNG Canada – a joint venture between Shell Canada, Petronas, PetroChina, Mitsubishi Corporation and KOGAS – reported that its Phase 1 was 70% complete, with the associated Coastal Gaslink (CGL) pipeline 75% complete, making it two to three years away from its first outgoing LNG shipments. This $40 billion project is located in Kitimat, BC and was the first large-scale LNG export facility to announce a final investment decision in British Columbia. The terminal is being built on the head of the Douglas Channel, on the traditional territory of the Haisla Nation. Phase 1 will use natural gas–powered turbines in its liquefaction process.
A final investment decision has not yet been made for Phase 2 of the project, which would double the exporting capacity of the facility from 14 million to 28 million tonnes per year. However, Phase 2 has not been accounted for in the CleanBC plan and may be subject to significant emissions caps. One potential solution to address emissions caps is to completely electrify the liquefaction process. However, electrification, while technically feasible, will incur significant operating costs. There are also significant concerns regarding capacity and reliability of the BC Hydro system into Kitimat. Powering Phase 2 with electricity would require the construction of new transmission infrastructure.
The proposed Cedar LNG project would neighbour LNG Canada in Kitimat. Cedar LNG is currently undergoing an environmental assessment, having completed the public comment period this year. This $3 billion project would be developed by the Haisla Nation and Pembina Pipeline Corporation, and, if developed, is purported to be the largest Indigenous Nation-owned infrastructure project in Canada. Cedar LNG would produce approximately 3 million tonnes of LNG per year. It would be interconnected with the existing BC Hydro transmission system, minimizing its carbon intensity. The intent to fully electrify the Cedar LNG facility contributes to the BC Hydro system concerns noted above, as both facilities would share the same transmission lines.
In April 2022, Woodfibre LNG announced that it had issued a Notice to Proceed to its prime contractor, McDermott International, in respect of its $US5.1-billion project. This notice instructs McDermott to begin the work required to commence major construction of the Woodfibre LNG project in 2023. Substantial completion is expected to occur by 2027.
Woodfibre LNG will be a 2.1 million-tonne-per-year export facility. This project, located in Squamish, British Columbia, will be powered entirely by renewable hydroelectricity, and purports to be the cleanest LNG facility worldwide. Another notable aspect of Woodfibre LNG is its regulatory oversight by the Squamish Nation, in addition to the BC and Canadian governments. Woodfibre LNG is the first industrial project in Canada to recognize an Indigenous people as a full project regulator in absence of a treaty.
In July 2022, Enbridge Inc. announced that it had reached agreement with Singapore-based Pacific Energy Corp. Ltd. for Enbridge to take a 30% ownership stake in the Woodfibre LNG project, its first investment in an LNG terminal. Enbridge has also green-lit a $3.6 billion expansion of the T-South segment of its BC natural gas pipeline system to meet growing regional demand, including the Woodfibre LNG project. Enbridge is expected to submit a regulatory application for this expansion (the Southern Mainline Expansion Project) in 2024, with operations to start in 2028.
Tilbury LNG is an expansion of an existing FortisBC facility, located on Tilbury Island in Delta, BC. FortisBC is in the early planning stages to complete Phase 1 of the expansion to its liquefaction capacity, which could be in service as early as 2025. In addition, the Tilbury Jetty Limited Partnership, to be jointly owned by Fortis LNG Jetty Limited Partnership and Seaspan, has filed an application for environmental assessment for a marine jetty adjacent to the Tilbury LNG facility. Further, the project description for Phase 2 of the Tilbury LNG expansion project has been submitted to the BC Environmental Assessment Office and the Impact Assessment Agency of Canada. Phase 2 would involve construction of a new 142,400 cubic metre tank and provide new liquefaction capacity of 2.5 million tonnes per year. If approved, Phase 2 construction could begin in 2023 and be completed by 2028.
Nisga'a Nation, Rockies LNG Limited Partnership and Western LNG LLC propose to jointly develop the Ksi Lisims LNG Natural Gas Liquefaction and Marine Terminal project at Wil Milit on the northern end of Pearse Island, British Columbia. This facility would produce 12 million tonnes of LNG per year. It is in the early engagement stages of the BC environmental assessment, having submitted a detailed project description in April. Two natural gas pipelines are being considered for the project, namely, Enbridge’s Westcoast Connector Gas Transmission Pipeline and TransCanada’s Prince Rupert Gas Transmission Pipeline, each of which could connect gas resources in Northeastern BC to the project site.