Liquefied Natural Gas Exports From Shale Drilling in British Columbia, Nearly A Reality

Last week, the proposed Kitimat liquefied natural gas (LNG) development project on British Columbia’s west coast, run by KM LNG Operating General Partnership, awarded the global engineering and construction firm KBR, a former Halliburton subsidiary, an engineering and design contract for an LNG export facility at Bish Cove, some 15 km’s southeast of Kitimat on land owned by the Haisla First Nation.

Although KM LNG is waiting for final approval from Canada’s National Energy Board (NEB) for a 20-year export license to transport of up to 13,300,000 103m3/year or 468 billion cubic feet/year of LNG, KM LNG is now a step closer to becoming Canada’s first exporter of liquid natural gas.

The majority of the gas will be sourced from shale deposits located in the northeast of the province, where hydraulic fracturing (or fracking) is widely used. From Bish, the LNG will transit on large tankers destined for markets in Asia beginning in 2015.
The province will receive short-term economic benefits from the project as will the First Nations communities involved; however, in the long-term this project and others like it will lock BC into decades of fracking pollution and continued threats to B.C. waterways and air quality. It will also require heavy use of dirty tankers to ship fossil fuels in and around sensitive coastal environmental ecosystems on its way to consumers in Asia. Moreover, LNG converted from shale gas deposits, drilled using the highly controversial and environmentally destructive fracking drilling method, will produce substantial carbon emissions across the project’s life-cycle. Accordingly, such a project contradicts the province’s climate action plan [PDF] to reduce carbon emissions 33% from their 2007 levels, by 2020.

The Pacific Institute for Climate Solutions, which produces white papers and briefing notes specifically delivered to provincial government decision-makers, has produced two recent reports – one in August 2010 [PDF] and one last month [PDF] – describing how shale gas development is incompatible with achieving legislated climate change action requirements, unless there is significant investment in unproven and risky carbon capture and storage (CCS) technology.

At present, the province does not have a plan for how it will manage shale gas development and as such, the future of its carbon emission reduction requirements is at risk.

The NEB application process held a public hearing March 1st in Kitimat and faces NEB scrutiny in a major hearing set for June 7th. Making the NEB aware of the environmental and health risks from expanding drilling for shale gas is vital and unfortunately, the deadline for participating in-person at the NEB hearing is today the 8th of March. There will also be a further opportunity to file a comment due April 26th. See part of the NEB press release below:

People interested in the public hearing can participate in one of three ways:
•    by seeking intervenor status;
•    filing a letter of comment;
•    by making an oral statement to the Board.

Any person wishing to intervene in the hearing must file an application by noon (MST), on 8 March 2011 with the Secretary of the Board at the following address:

Anne-Marie Erickson
Secretary of the Board
National Energy Board
444 Seventh Avenue S.W.
Calgary, AB T2P 0X8
Facsimile 403-292-5503

Any person wishing to submit a letter of comment or request permission to make an oral statement must do so by noon (MST), 26 April 2011.

On-line forms for all three ways to participate are available on the NEB’s Website at In the right margin, select “View or Submit a Regulatory Document”, scroll down and click on “Submit documents electronically” and then select the form that suits your purpose.