FortisBC, (a gas distributor with 1.1 million regional customers), has filed a C$3 billion ($2.3 billion) LNG expansion plan with the BC Environmental Assessment Office (BCEAO) and the Impact Assessment Agency of Canada (IAAC).

The project would install new capacity for 3.5 million metric tons/year (mmty) of LNG per year, or about 455 MMcf/d by 2028 at a 49-year-old waterfront gas plant called Tilbury in Delta, (which is a Vancouver suburb, mainly made of industrial estates). 

It said in a statement that supply security, raised marine fuel standards and export ambitions have propelled new growth, and more specifically the need for a liquefied natural gas (LNG) refrigeration, storage and shipping complex on the southern Pacific coast of British Columbia.

The FortisBC regulatory applications said: “In late fall of 2018 the region experienced a significant natural gas supply disruption …Additional local area storage is needed to prevent widespread outages of short duration and/or allow planned curtailment to avoid a system-wide collapse.”

The disruption it refers to is a rupture, explosion and fire that cut in half 2 Bcf/dnd that flows to the BC and US Pacific coast on Enbridge Inc.’s Westcoast Energy pipeline from northern gas production fields. It caused prolonged supply shortages and steep price hikes that prompted a review of resiliency and operational flexibility within the system.

Elsewhere, a C$400 million ($300 million) capacity addition is planned by FortisBC for regional gas demand growth before the Westcoast blast, and this is already underway. A companion plan by WesPac Midstream LLC for a new Tilbury LNG wharf is also waiting for regulatory approval.

The new FortisBC project is designed to anticipate large-scale increases in ocean shipping need for clean fuel and overseas LNG consumption. The new growth programme may require gas pipeline expansion by Enbridge’s Westcoast network.

FortisBC said: “Vancouver is well positioned to be an LNG marine bunkering hub as ship owners are increasingly moving to LNG-powered ships in order to meet stringent International Marine Organisation emission regulations that came into force in 2020.”

It added: “Availability, price, quality, and infrastructure are all critical to creating this cleaner fuelling hub that will allow additional coastal vessels and trans-Pacific shipping companies to commit to securing new vessels powered by LNG instead of bunker or diesel oil.”

Last December, FortisBC supplied LNG container shipments to True North Energy, a trading firm that made its first delivery to a Chinese industrial niche market that is switching fuels to gas from coal.

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12th March 2020