Peter Watts: Liquefied natural gas project could mean East Coast gold rush
There is a lot of talk about energy projects to the west coast serving the Alberta energy sector, but we rarely hear about important projects elsewhere in the country in which Alberta companies are taking an interest.
Such a project is the $10 billion Goldboro liquefied natural gas (LNG) project, which is in development and planned for a site on the northeastern shore of Nova Scotia.
The project found its way into the news on Friday when its principal partner, Calgary-based Pieridae Energy, struck a deal to merge with Ikkuma Resources Corp. Ikkuma produces about 100 million cubic feet of natural gas a day, and that gas will be part of the fuel stock for the new LNG terminal.
“We’re still some distance from the first ship departing for Europe,” Pieridae’s Alfred Sorenson told me. “We have three more permits to get this fall but we hope to start building the facility in early 2019. It will be a four-year construction project. We’ve signed contracts with a utility in Germany and we hope to be exporting to that market, and perhaps others, by 2023.”
The project could mean up to 3,500 construction jobs during that phase and then about 200 full-time jobs once the facility is up and running.
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“We still have three pieces of the puzzle to put in place, including our development permit, an agreement with Trans Canada to supply natural gas to the project and completion of the financial package to build the terminal,” said Sorenson. “We expect to be able to make a final investment decision by the end of this year.”
Goldboro has been marketed as the energy hub of Nova Scotia. The project was selected as the eastern terminus for the Maritimes & Northeast Pipeline, which connects to the Sable Offshore Energy Project gas plant. The Sable project is now facing end-of-life closing, as is the Encana Deep Panuke project, and the Sable proponents have commenced decommissioning activities of the offshore facilities. It will cease production some time in 2019.
As for the Goldboro LNG project, it’s just getting started.
“(Goldboro is) a community of about 500 people so its population will grow a bit if we can get into the construction phase,” said Sorenson. “Guysborough County and the province of Nova Scotia are pretty excited about the possibilities. And the jetty that will need to be built to feed LNG to ships won’t be as long as what was contemplated for the proposed LNG plant in Prince Rupert, B.C.”
There are also indications that more buyers will be interested in Goldboro’s future product. Certainly, the proposal helps to diversify the energy economy and provides an opportunity to serve new customers. I dare say that a lot of workers who had experience in Fort McMurray but live in the Maritimes will welcome the opportunity to find a job closer to home.
The project would mean a major investment, a lot of jobs, economic diversity and a LNG terminal built on the fact that the community has already played a role in the development of the east coast’s energy sector.
In the late 19th century, Goldboro came to be as a result of several gold mines in the area. With the arrival of this LNG project, a new kind of gold could well be its future.
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