FortisBC says it has signed its first term contract to send liquefied natural gas shipments to China from its facility near Vancouver.
The utility company, which has operated its Tilbury LNG facility since 1971, says a recent expansion made possible its two-year contract to ship 53,000 tonnes per year by the summer of 2021 to Chinese LNG distributor Top Speed Energy Corp.
The division of St. John's, N.L.-based Fortis Inc. says shipments are to be delivered in 60 specialized shipping containers per week from its plant near the Fraser River, noting the volumes would be sufficient to heat about 30,000 average British Columbia households per year.
The contract is modest compared to what's planned for the Shell Canada-led LNG Canada facility at Kitimat, B.C., a $40-billion project approved last fall that is expected to produce about 14 million tonnes per year after it opens in 2023 or 2024.
FortisBC says it has been selling small shipments of LNG in China on a spot basis since 2017.
Doug Stout, vice-president of market development, says FortisBC's $400-million expansion project took capacity from about 35,000 to 250,000 tonnes per year, allowing a facility that had been used mainly for natural gas storage to become a commercial LNG production plant.
“This plant allows us to serve the local marine and transportation markets as well as the smaller-scale export opportunities,” he said.
“We're looking at further expansions both for this type of market and for the marine and truck transportation markets.”
He says the company is considering a similar expansion in the next couple of years, adding there's room on site to eventually reach capacity of three to four million tonnes per year.
© 2019 The Canadian Press