Gas plant, pipeline planned for B.C. Peace not all it seems, says West Coast Olefins CEO
They’re being very evasive about saying they’re actually intending to take those liquids to Taylor because that’s where the pipelines are that take those liquids to Alberta.
— Ken James
West Coast Olefins Ltd. CEO Ken James is fighting to prevent a gas plant and pipeline Enbridge Inc. is proposing for the B.C. Peace from going ahead, saying it threatens to siphon away jobs to Alberta.
Enridge has filed an application with the B.C. Environmental Assessment Office for its $2.5-billion Frontier Project, which would see a natural gas liquids extraction plant constructed near Chetwynd and then connected by pipeline to Taylor. The liquids would then go to third party fractionation and rail loading facilities for further processing and transportation to market. It would pose direct competition with WCOL’s $5-billion proposal for Prince George, which would also rely on natural gas from an Enbridge pipeline for feedstock. But in an interview on Monday, James said the Frontier Project should reviewed by the federal government’s regulator as an interprovincial project, if not stopped outright.
“They’re being very evasive about saying they’re actually intending to take those liquids to Taylor because that’s where the pipelines are that take those liquids to Alberta,” James said of Enbridge’s submission to the EAO. “And they’re hiding the fact that B.C. has natural gas liquids reserves that rival those in Alberta, but you don’t get any jobs out of them.”
He said WCOL lawyers are working to convince the federal government’s Canadian Energy Regulator, which replaced the National Energy Board effective Aug. 28, to launch a review. James said local politicians are also raising the issue.
“Unless you know what you’re reading, it’s very interesting wording,” James said of Enbridge’s submission to the EAO. “They don’t talk anything about what products they’re making and where they’re going, which I find shocking that you can even enter the process without telling that.”
James has also been giving a presentation – posted with this story at princegeorgecitizen.com – outlining his concerns about the submission and “to try and educate people about what it says but what it really means.”
Enbridge’s West Coast natural gas pipeline has been in place for 60 years, he noted, yet “nobody had any interest in doing anything until we started.”
“I believe Enbridge is doing what it thinks is the easiest for them, which is to work with the companies they’re very routinely used to working” James said. “But at the end of the day, this is a B.C. resource and they’d better get used to dealing with British Columbia companies.”
According to GMP FirstEnergy analyst Ian Gillies, if the plant is built in Chetwynd, it would be the first of its kind in B.C. whereas there are eight in Alberta. It would have an initial capacity of 1.0-1.5 billion cubic feet per day while the pipeline would carry 100,000 barrels per day.
“This is another example of infrastructure companies trying to provide solutions for natural gas liquids in the WCSB and improve takeaway capacity for dry gas,” Gillies said in a research note. “We expect the fractionation facility will be owned by a third party. Mosaic theory would suggest that Pembina Pipeline will be the provider as they have discussed building a fractionation facility in this region.”
He said project design is currently in the conceptual stage, with front end engineering design work expected to begin the third quarter, for an expected in-service date of winter 2024, Gillies said. The project is not yet secured, and Enbridge has not yet discussed it with the analyst community, he added.
WCOL, meanwhile, has submitted a preliminary project description to the EAO for a component of the petrochemical complex it is proposing for Prince George, specifically an ethylene plant it wants to build at the BCR Industrial Site.