Much has changed in the North American liquefied natural gas (LNG) market in the past decade. Throughout the early to mid-2000’s, concerns over decreasing conventional supplies of domestic natural gas led to bullish predictions about future LNG demand in North America, resulting in an investment boom to build new LNG import facilities.
Around 2008, dramatic changes in the North American natural gas market began, driven by surging U.S. unconventional natural gas production (mostly from shale gas). This changed the outlook for LNG imports. Natural gas production increased, North American prices fell significantly, and the expected need for imported LNG collapsed. In fact, LNG exports began to be contemplated.
As unconventional gas production increases, the U.S. is becoming increasingly self-sufficient with respect to natural gas. Pipeline exports from Canada to the U.S. are decreasing. With ample unconventional resources, industry has shifted its focus from importing LNG into North America to exporting LNG from North America. The export of LNG could facilitate Canadian natural gas production growth and result in significant investment, jobs and economic growth.
Canadian LNG Projects
Eighteen LNG export facilities have been proposed in Canada – 13 in British Columbia, 2 in Quebec and 3 in Nova Scotia – with a total proposed export capacity of 216 Million tons per annum (mtpa) of LNG (approximately 29 Billion cubic feet per day (Bcf/d) of natural gas). Since 2011, 24 LNG projects have been issued long-term export licenses. Canada’s only operational LNG terminal (an import terminal) is Canaport LNG’s regasification import terminal located in Saint John, New Brunswick.
According to a Conference Board of Canada study, which estimates the potential contributions LNG exports may make to the Canadian economy, an LNG export industry equivalent to 30 mtpa in British Columbia could add roughly $7.4 billion to Canada’s annual economy over the next 30 years, and raise national employment by an annual average of 65,000 jobs. The Government of Canada is working closely with British Columbia, other provinces and industry partners to create conditions to support the development of an LNG industry in Canada.
|Canaport LNG||Saint John, New Brunswick|
Canadian LNG Import and Proposed Export Facilities
|Project||Export Licence||Export Volume Million Tons per Annum (Mtpa) - Billion Cubic Feet per day (Bcf/d)||Cost of the Project ($Billion)|
|13 West Coast (British Columbia) Export Terminals|
|Kitimat LNG||20 Years||10 Mtpa - 1.3 Bcf/d||$15|
|LNG Canada||40 Years||26 Mtpa – 3.5 Bcf/d||$25-$40|
|Cedar LNG Project||25 Years||6.4 Mtpa – 0.8 Bcf/d|
|Orca LNG||25 Years||24 Mtpa – 3.2 Bcf/d|
|New Times Energy||25 Years||12 Mtpa – 1.6 Bcf/d|
|Kitsault Energy Project||20 Years||20 Mtpa – 2.7 Bcf/d|
|Stewart LNG Export Project||25 Years||30 Mtpa – 4.0 Bcf/d|
|Triton LNG (On Hold)||25 Years||2.3 Mtpa – 0.3 Bcf/d|
|Woodfibre LNG||25 Years||2.1 Mtpa – 0.3 Bcf/d||$1.6|
|WesPac LNG Marine Terminal||25 Years||3 Mtpa – 0.6 Bcf/d|
|Discovery LNG||25 Years||20 Mtpa – 2.6 Bcf/d|
|Steelhead LNG: Kwispaa LNG||25 Years||30 Mtpa – 4.3 Bcf/d||$30|
|5 East Coast Export Terminals|
|20 Years||10 Mtpa – 1.4 Bcf/d||$8.3|
|Bear Head LNG
|25 Years||12 Mtpa – 1.6 Bcf/d||$2-$8|
|A C LNG
|25 Years||15 Mtpa – 2.1 Bcf/d||$3|
|Energie Saguenay (Quebec)||25 Years||11 Mtpa – 1.6 Bcf/d||$7|
|Stolt LNGaz (Quebec)||25 Years||0.5 Mtpa – 0.7 Bcf/d||$0.6|
|Total||216 Mtpa – 29 Bcf/d|
Canadian Government Position
The Minister of Natural Resources Canada has stated “The Canadian Government is taking steps to grow the Canadian economy, create good jobs and opportunities for Canadians, while protecting our environment for future generations. As the Prime Minister has emphasized, in the 21st century we must get our resources to market sustainably and responsibly. For all natural resource projects, the government is working closely with provinces and territories, Indigenous peoples, and other interested parties to ensure that the highest standards of public and environmental safety are being met, while creating new export opportunities for Canada’s natural resources.”
Regulations and Permitting
While the ongoing operation of LNG terminals generally falls under provincial regulation, most LNG terminal proposals require both federal and provincial environmental assessments and permits.
Most of the proposed LNG facilities require new pipelines or the expansion of existing pipelines. Intra-provincial pipelines are provincially regulated, while pipelines that cross a provincial or international border are federally regulated. For more information on pipelines, please see Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) Concerning Federally-Regulated Petroleum Pipelines in Canada.
A permit from the National Energy Board (NEB), Canada’s federal energy regulator, is required to export LNG from Canada. The NEB reviews export licence applications to ensure that the proposed volume of gas to be exported is surplus to Canadian requirements. Since 2011, 24 LNG projects have been issued long-term export licenses ranging between 20-40 years. More information on export licences is available on the NEB's website.
LNG Facilities and Safety Regulations
LNG facilities are classified as industrial sites and must meet all federal, provincial and municipal standards, codes and safety regulations. These regulations are constantly updated to ensure that the health, safety and security of the environment and Canadian public are protected. The Canadian Standards Association (CSA) has a specific standard for LNG production, storage and handling (CSA Standard CAN/CSA Z276-01). This standard establishes essential requirements for the design, installation and safe operation of LNG facilities.
These websites provide useful background information on LNG and LNG regulatory processes in Canada.