Spectra Energy hoping to start environmental assessment in early 2014
Spectra Energy wants to submit its plans for a pipeline to feed a planned $6 to 8 billion liquefied natural gas (LNG) plant in Prince Rupert for an environmental review by early 2014, officials said here during an open house Feb. 21.
And based on approvals taking approximately one year, construction would begin by 2016, they added.
"The assessment is currently in the data collection stage," said consultant David Harper of TERA, the Calgary-based environmental agency contracted to do an external environmental assessment for Spectra, of the pipeline which would start in northeastern BC and run north of Terrace toward the Pacific Ocean before swinging south to Prince Rupert.
Spectra's open house held at the Northwest Community College is one of a continuing series of public sessions aimed at building public support for the pipeline project.
"It provides us with the opportunity to connect with communities. Naturally people are concerned about their quality of life," said Spectra project manager Mel Johnson.
If approved, the pipeline would extend from the natural-gas rich Cypress area of northeastern B.C. to a LNG plant on Ridley Island near Prince Rupert that would be operated by the BG Group, one of several multi-national companies hoping to export LNG to lucrative Asian markets.
The BG Group has to submit its plans for a separate environmental review.
The final stretch of the pipeline route once it reaches the Cranberry Junction area from northeastern B.C., a distance of 641 kilometres, is still undetermined.
There are three route options under consideration past the Cranberry area, two of which would involve an undersea route to the LNG facility.
One would enter the water near the Nasoga Gulf area and other near the mining ghost town of Kitsault before turning south.
A third, alternative route, an all land one, would follow the Nass partway and then cut diagonally to the southwest through coastal mountains between Terrace and Rupert.
"If something undersea says we can't do it then we have a land route option," said Spectra's manager of aboriginal relations Evan Saugstad.
The Kitsault and the Nasoga routes would entail 195 kilometres and 100 of underwater piping respectively. The total lengths would be about 886 and 845 kilometres, and the overland route would be between 690 to 770 kilometres total, said construction manager Errol Batchelor.
The right-of-way, which is the width of the path for the pipeline, would be between 30 and 45 metres.
The goal is to pump 4.2 billion cubic feet (bcf) per day of natural gas under pressure through a pipe 42 to 48 inches in diameter, said Brian Tanakra, director of business development and special projects.
Pressure would vary depending on the final width of the pipe, and would be achieved through four-six compressor stations positioned along the route, though at first only one would be needed.
A 3D Google Map application shown at the open house provided a bird's eye view of the possible pipeline routes, illustrating the complex topography of the paths under consideration.
The challenge is to avoid geohazards such as areas where lateral erosion occurs in the Nass Valley, and shifting stream beds due to alluvial fans, as well as locations where they must either stabilize or tunnel through rock.
British Gas Group (BG) official Herb Pond said the company wants to start producing LNG with two self contained sections or trains on Ridley Island next to the old Skeena Cellulose pulp mill site.
Once production picks up the plan is to add a third train, he said.
A four-year construction phase would see 3,500 jobs created, Pond said, with 400-600 full-time jobs once the project is completed.
"The ships are basically floating fridges," Pond explained. Once cooled in the trains, the gas is 600 times more condensed than it was in the pipeline. Transport vessels the same size or larger than customary container ships would fill up every one or two days.
The pipeline would pass through 20-25 First Nation traditional territories including Treaty 8 land in the northeast and Nisga'a lands in the Nass Valley.
"If we go through a municipal boundary they can tax us," said Saugstad of the ability of local governments to gain revenue from the pipeline. "Half stays and half goes to Victoria. First Nations don't have that unless you go on their reserve land. They have to own the land. If it's on their traditional land they have no right to taxation."
The actual construction of the pipeline, pending environmental approval, ultimately depends upon Spectra's board of directors. But it also depends upon the BG Group obtaining approval for its plant and making its own decision to proceed.
"They're not slam dunk projects but you have to treat them like they will go ahead," Saugstad said.