Today, Canada’s natural gas sector is seeing its decade of darkness due to federal policy. And it’s not because the opportunity wasn’t there. It was because our government allowed its ideology, and that of its anti-oil and gas friends (also known as protestors) to stand in the way, while the rest of the world passed us by.
And while most people would not have predicted a 2022 invasion of Ukraine by Russia, they could had seen there would be a push towards an increased global market for natural gas by the way of LNG (liquefied natural gas). The Americans did. And while we had proposed projects by the dozen, here in Canada, only LNG Canada, at Kitimat, is anywhere close to completion. Woodfibre LNG is finally getting going. As for the East Coast? Not so much.
And yet this past summer, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz came to Canada, basically begging us to supply them with LNG. And our illustrious Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said, in front of the man’s face, there was “no business case” for LNG.
But he did take Scholz to Newfoundland, to get him to sign onboard to some harebrained scheme for hydrogen fuel, several years down the road. The plan? To build massive onshore wind turbines on the southeast corner of Newfoundland. Then they’ll use that power to turn water from a retired mine site (not ocean water) into hydrogen, and then turn it into ammonia for shipping.
That German Chancellor promptly flew to Persian Gulf and signed long term agreements with the UAE and Qatar for LNG supplies.
A little over a month ago, Scholz inaugurated Germany’s first LNG import terminal – put in place in less than a year. And on Saturday, Jan. 14, he was present at the opening of a second. A third is on its way in short order.
And last week, Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida came to Canada, basically begging for LNG. And Prime Minister Trudeau spoke in front of this leader about the world decarbonizing.
In other words, don’t count on this country to help all that much on LNG you in your time of need.
What is going on
At Kitimat, B.C., LNG Canada is currently building two “trains,” (processing lines) each with a capacity of 7 million tonnes of LNG per year. They’re now seriously considering continuing on with doubling that to four trains.
In the meantime, the U.S. literally went from zero to hero since 2016. They’ve gone from no export capacity of LNG to world leader. It was no small coincidence that the first tanker to show up at that brand new German LNG import terminal was carrying an American cargo.
The leader has been Cheniere’s Sabine Pass Liquefaction, in Louisiana. It has six trains in place, each capable of 5 million tonnes per year for a total of 30 million tonnes per year.
Across the Sabine-Neches Waterway, Golden Pass LNG, originally an import terminal operational in 2010, switched gears and is becoming an export facility, to be online in 2024. It’ll export 18 million tonnes of LNG per year.
Cheneire also has an LNG plant at Corpus Christi, with three trains totalling 15 million tonnes per year. It went into operation in 2018, and they’re planning a 10 million tonne expansion.
Kinder Morgan’ Gulf LNG Liquefaction Project at Pascagoula, Mississsippi, will have a capacity of 10.85 million tonnes per year.
And Canada’s LNG?
And what do we have to show on our East Coast, that could ship to Europe? Squat.
There’s talk of converting New Brunswick’s Saint John LNG terminal from an import to an export facility.
Pieridae Energy’s Goldboro LNG project for Nova Scotia has shifted in concept from on-shore to an off-shore, floating LNG project. Proposed a decade ago, Goldboro was originally scheduled to being operations this year. Their December, 2022, capital budget notably did not include major funds for Goldboro.
And then there’s Énergie Saguenay, proposed initially in 2014 to use 100 per cent Western Canadian natural gas via a 750 km pipeline tying it into the TC Energy mainline system. It was killed by both the Quebec and federal governments, as if one death wasn’t enough for an energy project in this country. It would have been able to export 10.5 million tonnes per year. The federal decision was 17 days before the start of the Ukraine war, and notably has not been reversed.
LNG Newfoundland, which might be in place by 2030, is still kicking. It would take natural gas from offshore projects like Hibernia, Hebron, Terra Nova and White Rose, ship it 600 kilometres by subsea pipeline, and produce 2.5 million tonnes per year.
So there you have it. While the US has moved fast and hard to get LNG export facilities in place over the last decade, Canada has dragged its feet and stubbed its toe. We let protestors (Coastal GasLink), provincial governments (Quebec) and the federal government (Energie Saguenay) get in the way. Now, while the world is crying for LNG from Canada, we have nothing to give them.
The only way this will change is if we have a change in government in Ottawa, and a change in attitude in this nation. We can’t be Can’tada any longer. The world needs us.
Brian Zinchuk is editor and owner of Pipeline Online, and an occasional contributor to the Frontier Centre for Public Policy. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.