LNG from Canada has some important operational-cost and carbon-intensity advantages over LNG from many other parts of the natural gas-producing world, including the simple fact that Canada is cold.
“You can see Canadian temperatures are, obviously, on average lower than those on the Gulf Coast and those in several parts of Australia and certainly those in Africa, where we have emerging projects going forward, and also in Qatar,” said Ryan Pereira, global director of oil and gas at Gaffney, Cline & Associates. “This leads to substantial operational cost savings in the running of the plants going forward.”
Further, he told a recent event in London, U.K. (hosted on behalf of the Alberta government) to discuss the scope of Canadian LNG growth, the sort of innovation, technology and “forward thinking about the energy transition” that makes LNG both ecological and economical “is being massively embraced in Canada,” which bodes well for projects.
“It’s pleasing to see that Canadian proponents today are leading the way in terms of carbon intensity of liquefaction facilities, setting examples,” Pereira said, adding LNG is poised to play an important role in the global transition to less carbon-intensive forms of energy. “The reason for this are the four ‘Es’ you hear an awful lot about in Canada, and we hear an awful lot about in this part of the world — energy, environment, the economy, and finally, electrification.”
However, during the event, which was hosted by JWN parent company Glacier Media and the Canadian Society for Unconventional Resources, Shawn Tupper, associate deputy minister, Natural Resources Canada, said Canada’s interest in LNG is not about de-carbonization or a “kind of runaway from carbon-based fuels,” but rather defining how the country’s energy mix will exist in the future (and the roles LNG and other products plays in that).
“Our fundamentals are about making sure we have a clear path forward, and that investors see that path forward in terms of how that energy mix evolves.”
Likewise, Bill Whitelaw, chief executive officer of JWN Energy, said that LNG is “just a proxy for an energy renaissance” in the Canadian natural gas sector. “Alberta in particular has a different set of interests from a lot of the other natural gas producers, because we have a full value-chain set of opportunities along how all those molecules can work on the behalf of all Canadians.”
Meanwhile, Sandy MacMullin, executive director of petroleum resources for Government of Nova Scotia, noted the distance advantage of potential East Coast Canadian LNG terminals when it comes to reaching European markets. He said: “A lot of people don’t realize that the sailing distance from Halifax to London is less than half the distance from Houston to London. That’s an advantage.”
Atlantic Canada matters
For Nova Scotia, LNG is important because it could potentially offer international markets for the province’s offshore natural gas reserves, noted MacMullin.
“We have a lot of natural gas potential in our offshore, but right now the oil and gas companies are not looking for offshore gas,” he said, adding if an LNG industry could take hold in Atlantic Canada, then Newfoundland and Labrador could also add its 12 tcf of discovered gas in need of market. “Those could ultimately augment the supply of natural gas coming out of Eastern Canada for LNG markets, and so there’s lots of optionality there that’s evolving.”
According to MacMillan, there are two proposed LNG projects for Nova Scotia. His province is working with Pieridae Energy Limited, Goldboro LNG’s proponent, to “appropriately set” a carbon price. He noted that another East Coast LNG challenge is environmental opposition. “One of the main things we’ve [got] to worry about and concern ourselves about is that we do have single-issue interest groups out there that aren’t fans of fossil fuel development.”
Bill Breckenridge, assistant deputy minister, energy and mines, Government of New Brunswick, said while his province does not export LNG, it does import it, and has done so safely for a decade — a time when natural resource projects have faced intense public scrutiny and increasing criticism. “We’ve had 10 years of LNG tankers coming into New Brunswick with no problems and no challenges.”