PREPARING FOR THE FUTURE IN CLEAN ENERGY
By Anna Guy
In November 2017, FortisBC’s Tilbury LNG facility made history by supplying the first shipment of Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) from Canada to China. The shipment is a milestone for FortisBC and dovetails with an extensive expansion of the Tilbury facility. This expansion will increase capacity for existing natural gas for transportation customers and emerging customers looking to meet Asia’s growing demand for LNG.
“In Canada, natural gas supply exceeds demand, but in Asia the situation is reversed. As a result, foreign customers are inquiring about purchasing natural gas from FortisBC’s Tilbury site,” said Rob Dunsmore, Project Director, FortisBC.
The Tilbury LNG facility has been creating safe, low-greenhouse gas emitting LNG since 1971. To meet the evolving needs of its customers FortisBC started construction of a $400-million expansion project at Tilbury in October 2014.
“Liquefied natural gas as a fuel alternative for fleet owners and operators across North America has precipitated the need for expansion,” says Dunsmore. “Liquefied natural gas offers fuel savings and reductions in environmental footprint in the transportation sector. This expansion will help meet the growing LNG demands of the transportation sector, as well as remote communities and industry in B.C.”
The expansion includes construction of a full containment LNG storage tank, additional liquefaction equipment and truck loading bays. It will mean a significant increase in capacity. Whereas the legacy facility could liquefy 5,000 gigajoules (GJ) of gas per day, and has a storage capacity of 600,000 GJ, the expanded facility will be able to liquefy an additional 34,000 GJ of natural gas per day and will add 1.1 million GJ of additional storage capacity. Based on the current project schedule, the expansion is expected to be operational later this year.
Creating Jobs through LNG
The expansion of the Tilbury LNG facility has provided significant economic and employment benefits not only for the people of Delta, but neighbouring communities and First Nations as well. The project has generated greater than $60 million in local contractor spending from more than 165 companies in 12 communities. More than 1,700 tradespeople were registered and available for work on the project, including more than 115 apprentices.
The British Columbia government has been a long-time supporter of the development of an LNG export industry in the province. Even with a change in government last year, provincial support for LNG exports and associated jobs remains strong, suggesting a positive outlook for the industry in B.C.
Serving a Growing Demand
FortisBC is focused on serving the domestic, West Coast and Asian LNG markets, says Dunsmore. The plant expansion at Tilbury in Delta is located near major highways, international shipping terminals, and is adjacent to the Fraser River. As such, it is ideally located for moving LNG via truck and marine vessel for use locally, in locations along the West Coast and across the Pacific in Asia.
Some of FortisBC’s heavy-duty vehicle customers such as Vedder Transport Ltd. acquire LNG from the Tilbury LNG facility, and BC Ferries and Seaspan have also signed long-term supply agreements to fuel new vessels with LNG from the Tilbury LNG facility. Tilbury also provides LNG to remote communities such as Anahim Lake, B.C. and secondary supply to communities as far north as Whitehorse and Inuvik.
By building a sustainable industry, FortisBC is preparing for jobs going forward as the demand for natural gas grows. LNG is an important step in a global shift to cleaner energy production, which makes it a strong option to help meet future emissions reduction targets. It can be the backbone of a mix of renewable and alternative energy sources as well as a cleaner alternative to coal and oil, according to Dunsmore.
“FortisBC is investing in the market potential of LNG as a cost-effective source of energy,” said Dunsmore. “As the global transportation market moves to lower emissions in the sector we see this as a tremendous opportunity for FortisBC and for Canada.”