"For much of the state of Maine, the environment is the economy"
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Gulf of Mexico
2014 November 26
2014 November 22
Bear Head LNG, a subsidiary of Australia-based Liquefied Natural Gas, has submitted an application to Canada's National Energy Board (NEB) to export about 12 million tonnes per year of liquefied natural gas (LNG).
Bear Head is also seeking a licence to import up to 503 billion cubic feet (Bcf) of natural gas annually from the US.
Both the licenses would be for a 25-year term and if approved, Bear Head would be authorised to export eight million tonnes per annum (mtpa) of LNG starting in 2019.
It would increase to 12 mtpa in 2024, depending on market and supply conditions.
Bear Head LNG already has 12 permits in place to construct the liquefaction plant, including an approved environmental assessment.
Webmaster's comment: The fly in Bear Head LNG's ointment is that the US prohibits natural gas that has been exported to Canada from being exported to a third courntry.
…Among other things, Gallant will be promoting the possibility of converting the Canaport terminal into an export facility. [Colored & bold emphasis added.]
The liquefied natural gas facilities proposed for Nova Scotia will likely depend on access to American gas, but the U.S. government hasn’t yet weighed in on that idea.
Now it will, after the U.S. Energy Department was asked for permission late last month to allow exports to various overseas markets through a facility planned for Goldboro, Guysborough County.
Pieridae’s Goldboro development is one of four LNG projects proposed in the Maritimes, three of them in Nova Scotia. It would use gas primarily from the Marcellus shale gas field in Pennsylvania, New York, West Virginia and Ohio.
Pieridae proposes to pipe natural gas to the Maritimes on a line that would bring it across the border near Baileyville, Maine.
In the filing, the company asks for approval to ship from Canada without always being able to predict where the gas will end up. [Colored & bold emphasis added.]
Webmaster's comment: Goldboro LNG, like Bear Head LNG, is staking its future on being able to obtain natural gas from the US. The US prohibits natural gas from going to Canada if Canada re-exports the natural gas to a third country.
By the end of this year, developers of a controversial offshore liquefied natural gas plant are expected to release an environmental impact statement for the project, starting the clock for federal approval and the potential veto of governors Chris Christie and Andrew Cuomo.
Opponents on Long Island and in New York City and New Jersey are already planning their attack.
The project, called Port Ambrose, is being developed by Liberty Natural Gas. It would import liquefied natural gas and deliver 400 million cubic feet of natural gas to Long Island and other areas during peak demand periods. Part of the project includes a 22-mile pipeline connecting to an existing pipeline between New Jersey and Long Island. Its stated purpose is to ease transmission bottlenecks that sent gas prices soaring during last winter's polar vortex.
In comments submitted to the U.S. Maritime Administration, Michael Delaney, the city's director of energy regulatory affairs under former Mayor Mike Bloomberg and current Mayor Bill de Blasio cited "navigation hazards and the potential for direct conflicts between the proposed L.N.G. facility and its associated ship traffic, and a large wind farm that would be located in adjacent waters."
Critics are questioning whether the project is even necessary. Downstate New York is already building out its natural gas pipeline capacity and supplies have never been more abundant. In fact, most New York utilities are predicting lower gas prices for the winter.
Once the plant's impact statement is released, the public will have a chance to comment. When public comments conclude, Cuomo and Christie will have 45 days to either sign off on the project or veto it. If either one of the governors vetoes the project, it will fail. [Colored & bold emphasis added.]
A coalition of environmentalists and civic organizations is fighting to block construction of a liquefied natural gas port 19 miles off the New York coast that they contend would threaten marine life, fishing, and tourism as well as create a target for terrorism.
Construction would entail dredging of nearly 20 miles of seafloor to lay a pipeline connecting Port Ambrose to an existing offshore pipeline. “That would lead to disturbance and destruction of benthic [seafloor] habitat,” Ornell said.
FERC has approved Port Dolphin Energy LLC’s (PDE) request to extend the deadline by which PDE must complete construction to December 31, 2018 and place into service the onshore portion of a pipeline to interconnect with PDE’s proposed Deepwater Port (DWP) terminal offshore of Tampa, Fla. The deadline is consistent with the Maritime Administration’s (MARAD) December 31, 2018 deadline for completion of the DWP with which the onshore facilities would connect.
Delfin LNG LLC (Delfin) filed a letter notifying FERC that it has completed its acquisition of the Enbridge Offshore Pipelines (UTOS) natural gas pipeline system. Delfin intends to repurpose the system for use as part of a Deepwater Liquefied Natural Gas Port located in West Cameron Block 167, 30 miles offshore Cameron Parish, La.
[Jeff Gu] is one of three authors of a recently published study in the Journal of Geophysical Research, a peer-reviewed publication that looked at four years of earthquake data around Rocky Mountain House. The study concludes that waste-water injection into the ground is highly correlated with spikes in earthquake activity in the area.
It is the first study of its kind conducted in Canada that links industrial activity to induced earthquakes.
“There has been more and more evidence, increasing evidence, in the last few years in particular — in Arkansas, in Texas and actually more recently here,” Gu said.
Alaska's project to commercialize stranded natural gas on the North Slope with a new pipeline and liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminal is drawing criticism from the Sierra Club. It claims the project "...will cause extensive environmental harm..." and likely increase global greenhouse gas emissions, arguments it's made against other LNG projects.
The proposed facilities include a liquefaction plant and terminal in the Nikiski area on the Kenai Peninsula; an 800-mile, 42-inch diameter pipeline; up to eight compression stations; at least five offtake points for in-state gas delivery; and a gas treatment plant to be located on the North Slope (see Daily GPI, May 7).
Sierra Club has argued against exports of LNG from the Lower 48 on similar grounds. DOE and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission have said in response to previous challenges that they are not charged to consider the impacts of any natural gas production that is induced by export demand (see Daily GPI, July 31).
A Canadian aboriginal community has signed a deal with British Colombia to allow a gas pipeline to be built in its territory, setting the stage for more pacts that could bolster liquefied natural gas (LNG) export projects in the coastal province.
The Nisga’a are just one of 23 aboriginal communities that dot the proposed pipeline route, which would connect Petronas’ US$11 billion (RM37 billion) Pacific NorthWest LNG export terminal with gas fields in British Columbia’s northeast.
But uncertainties around taxation, the regulatory process and aboriginal consent have called into question whether any of the projects will ultimately be realised. [Colored & bold emphasis added.]
From the well to the waterline, the greenhouse-gas emissions created by a liquefied natural gas industry in British Columbia could be responsible for generating more than half of the province’s total carbon output in 2020.
The February, 2014, draft report from the consulting firm Globe Advisors looked more broadly at the “life cycle” of natural gas right from the wellhead, showing that more than half of emissions are generated upstream of the LNG plants.
The report notes that carbon emissions are not the only concern. “The scale of development can have major implications for local communities, land use, and water resources. Serious hazards, including the potential for air pollution and for contamination of surface and groundwater, must be successfully addressed,” the report says. The liquefaction process “could cause difficulty downstream” as it removes components such as dust, acid gases, helium and heavy hydrocarbons.
The Consolidated Commission on Utilities, which oversees the island's water and power utilities, voted last month to move forward with a liquefied natural gas conversion plan drawn up by the Guam Power Authority.
Richard Wallsgrove, program director at Blue Planet Foundation in Hawaii, said natural gas isn't renewable and at each step in the process of extracting, liquefying and regasifying it, methane leaks into the atmosphere.
Wallsgrove said one of the biggest issues with using natural gas is that it doesn't solve the fossil fuel problem. He also noted that natural gas isn't renewable or sustainable and, eventually, the natural gas supply will run out.
Russia’s move to broaden its energy ties to China is clouding the outlook for natural gas export projects on the drawing board in the U.S., Canada and Australia.
Gas-supply agreements between Russia, the world’s largest energy exporter, and China, the biggest consumer, are adding to pressure on projects that are already facing increasing competition, rising costs and the prospect of lower prices.
“It’s just bad news generally” for LNG around the world, said Peter Howard, president of the Canadian Energy Research Institute. “It’s going to get really crowded.”
“The more Russian gas going into China” means the less higher-cost LNG China will import from places like Canada, Reynold Tetzlaff, energy leader for Canada at PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP in Calgary, said by phone. “So we can’t ignore it, that’s for sure. We do need to move quickly or the window starts to close.” [Colored & bold emphasis added.]
As a December 2012 report commissioned by the Department of Energy confirmed, exporting natural gas will contribute to higher energy prices for U.S. consumers because it will deplete domestic gas reserves.
Big oil and gas companies have engineered this policy outcome through shrewd hiring of Washington insider lobbyists and public relations professionals: Obama and Bush Administration veterans, as well as former Capitol Hill staffers, who have moved through Washington’s revolving door to high-paying influence peddling jobs.
If the Obama Administration and the GOP-led Congress, prodded by industry lobbyists, pick LNG export acceleration as an area for bipartisan cooperation, they will hurt U.S. consumers and our environment and make global warming worse.
This report explores the people and companies involved in the influence-peddling lobbying apparatus dominating the LNG export process.
- The Obama administration and key Democratic leaders increasingly embrace LNG interests
- Many ex-Bush administration officials now lobby for or own LNG industry assets
- The LNG industry has purchased support in Congress
- The Koch brothers are profiting from, and promoting, LNG exports
- LNG interests are manipulating public opinion
The LNG export lobbying machine, as this report demonstrates, is well mobilized and well organized — and highly dependent on operatives moving through the government-lobbying revolving door. What remains to be seen is whether this juggernaut will advance unimpeded, or whether voices for environmental protection and lower U.S. energy prices will eventually force a real debate. [Colored & bold emphasis added.]
Europe is set to become a dumping ground for the world's unwanted gas supplies this winter as Asian demand for sea-borne shipments fizzles out, leaving dealers to seek out willing buyers at rock bottom prices.
Caught in a sharp downward spiral, Asian spot prices for liquefied natural gas (LNG) have more than halved this year as top Japanese and South Korean buyers, sitting on high stocks, scale back purchases while falling oil prices add to woes.
"The LNG industry was focusing on Asia but that time is more or less over now. The focus will be more spread all over the world and so LNG will be back in Europe," Philippe Perfumo, deputy head of long-term gas at GDF Suez said in Paris this week.
"There is no global LNG spot market right now, there's just lots of supply and no demand," a trading source at an Asia-Pacific producer said, explaining the sharp downward moves.
…[W]ith prices continuing to fall worldwide, LNG stored in Spanish, Belgium and Dutch terminals could force traders to release the supply into local gas grids at a loss. [Colored & bold emphasis added.]
Webmaster's comment: Downeast LNG is again too late arriving at the party. Even LNG export terminal projects are already becoming white elephants, even before they are built.
In 2013, industry produced 8 billion gallons of oil in California and 130 billion gallons of wastewater, according to the report.
Unlined open-air wastewater pits brimming with the toxic leftovers of fracking and other types of oil and gas development are threatening California's air and water quality, according to a study by two national environmental organizations.
The report was issued by Clean Water Action and Earthworks, both based in Washington, D.C.
"The discharge of wastewater into unlined pits threatens water resources, including potential sources of drinking and irrigation water, and impacts air quality due to the off-gassing of chemicals from the wastewater," according to the 28-page report, "In the Pits."
The study's conclusions reflect the same issues that worry people in states from Texas and Pennsylvania to Colorado and New Mexico where fracking—hydraulic fracturing—is creating billions of gallons of wastewater that often ends up in open pits.
In most states where fracking is booming, InsideClimate News found that air emissions from oil and gas waste are among the least regulated, least monitored and least understood components in the extraction and production cycle.
A bill to speed approvals for U.S. liquefied natural gas (LNG) export projects might get the backing of the Obama administration, with a bit of modification, according to Republican Sen. John Hoeven of North Dakota.
Moniz "has some things he would like to incorporate," Hoeven told reporters Wednesday. Among the revisions requested by Moniz is a change to the 45-day clock so that it begins after the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) has completed an environmental impact statement (EIS) for a proposed LNG facility.
An EIS [Environmental Impact Statement] is required under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), and for LNG facilities, they often take months to complete. However, with an approved EIS, financial backers would have more assurances that a project would proceed. On the other hand, critics argue that a lengthy EIS process could discourage customers from signing export contracts.
Webmaster's comment: The bill to speed approvals is apparently for Department of Energy (DOE) approval to export, not FERC permitting. Both DOE and FERC approvals are required, and that would not change.
SOUTH PORTLAND, Maine - Federal safety regulators are alerting pipeline operators about the possible risks associated with reversing the flow of oil and gas in their systems. In a recent advisory, the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration also says switching product or flow reversal "may not be advisable" in some cases. This could have implications for the Portland-Montreal Pipe Line Company based in South Portland.
"And the reason that is, is because it changes the stress points, and I think that's particularly important on older pipelines like the Portland-Montreal Pipe Line that have had a lot of years of use," says Jim Murphy, who is senior counsel with the National Wildlife Federation in Vermont, where towns along the Portland-Montreal Pipe Line route have raised red flags about the company's interest.
Murphy says the fact that the agency has come out with a warning and recommendations for testing is significant, even though the bulletin is advisory only and does not contain new regulations.… [Colored & bold emphasis added.]
Reversing oil and gas pipelines or changing the product they're carrying can have a 'significant impact' on the line's safety and integrity.
"What PHMSA's saying is 'Look, we're seeing too many projects where you're changing the service, changing the flow direction, and you haven’t done adequate integrity management,'" said Kuprewicz. "That's my interpretation of it."
Federal regulations do not require companies to get approval before they reverse a pipeline, change the kind of petroleum being carried, or convert a natural gas pipeline to carry liquids (or vice versa). And they don't specify what tests should be completed before making the changes or spell out when a pipeline should be considered too vulnerable to undergo the planned changes.
The advisory comes too late for a long list of pipeline projects that were completed in the last several years. Two of those were cited by PHMSA’s bulletin because they subsequently failed.
Kuprewicz, the pipeline safety expert, welcomed the agency's guidance … because it prevents pipeline companies from continuing to cite outdated testing research and recommendations. PHMSA's new guidelines may not be legally enforceable, he said. "But advisory bulletins are ignored by pipeline operators at their own risk." [Colored & bold emphasis added.]
Webmaster's comment: At the pipeline operator's own risk? It's at the PUBLIC'S risk!
At the 50th anniversary of the Wilderness Act, it is encouraging to learn that lands set aside for conservation can also have tremendous economic value. Wild places are key to attracting entrepreneurs, as well as a tidal wave of retiring Baby Boomers. And, more obviously, wild places create jobs in outdoor recreation, now a $646 billion industry.
The sweet spot are counties with a rural, scenic setting and with a nearby airport with daily service to major cities. In these “connected” counties there is a measurable positive association between wilderness, national parks and other protected lands and economic well-being.
Improvements on the unconventional gas side still are ongoing, analysts noted. Production could be more than 90 Bcf/d in 2020, up by almost half from 2011. For instance, technology has pulled production from the Appalachian Basin alone "from minimal levels to levels greater than most countries globally, falling short only of Russia and the U.S.”
Increased exports of liquefied natural gas would raise gas prices 4 to 11 percent above a reference case, which would lead to an increased use of coal for electricity generation, according to the Energy Information Administration.
“CO2 emissions would be slightly higher because of a higher consumption of coal in a higher-natural gas price scenario,” said Administrator Adam Sieminski, who spoke at an event hosted by export proponents LNG Allies. The price increase, presented in a recent report, would be about half as intense for residential customers, who are buffered somewhat by wholesale prices, he said. [Colored & bold emphasis added.]
2014 November 19
As natural gas industry executives noted that the Northeast received more than half of $19 billion invested nationally in pipeline expansion this year, Maine regulators moved a step closer to authorizing a new fee on electricity customers to help pump more natural gas to the region.
The commission on Thursday set out some details of how it will consider proposals from companies seeking money from Maine electricity customers to expand certain natural gas pipelines in the interest of reducing supply constraints that affect the price of gas and, as a result, electricity.
The case set in motion by the Legislature’s approval of using up to $1.5 billion of electricity customer money over 20 years for natural gas pipeline expansion elicited sharp disagreement between commissioners, with Commissioner David Littell penning a 37-page dissent last week regarding what he said “could be the largest ratepayer obligation in Maine’s history.”
The PUC order directs groups that oppose having Maine enter into an agreement that could tap electricity ratepayers for funding used to expand natural gas pipelines to “present evidence of what specific events or actions we should rely on to address the problem of high prices linked to insufficient pipeline capacity.” [Colored & bold emphasis added.]
Over 40 percent of frac sand producers in Wisconsin have broken state environmental rules in recent years, according to a new report.
This isn't the case of a "few bad apples" disregarding the law, said Bobby King, an organizer who contributed to the report by the Land Stewardship Project, an advocacy group.
"It's an industry that's willing to routinely violate rules that are designed to protect communities, protect air quality, protect water quality," he said.
Wisconsin is the nation's top producer of silica sand, a key ingredient used in hydraulic fracturing, or fracking. The state is home to 135 active mines, processing and transport facilities. That's up from only seven facilities in 2010.
Companies have "done the calculation" and decided it's cheaper to break the rules and pay a fine rather than actually change the way they do things, said King, from the Land Stewardship Project. [Colored & bold emphasis added.]
The Skeena River is the most productive salmon bearing river in British Columbia. Thousands of years before the first European colonists arrived, it was providing First Nations with food. A week ago, First Nations throughout the Skeena Watershed declared their opposition to the proposed LNG project on Lelu Island, grave lack of consultation and massive damage to salmon habitat.
Shannon McPhail, of the Skeena Watershed Conservation Coalition, said this area serves as a nursery where 90% of the Skeena’s juvenile salmon go before entering salt water. McPhail calls the proposed development both “irresponsible” and “immoral.” She also pointed me to the video “Skeena Estuary: Heart of the River,” which is now embedded at the top of this page.
In a recent press release, Chief Malii or Glen Williams, President and Chief Negotiator for the Gitanyow First Nation, said “When BC, the Prince Rupert Port Authority and Petronas sited a massive LNG development on the Skeena River’s most critical salmon habitat, they created the legal obligation to consult and accommodate First Nations who have an interest in Skeena salmon. We have written CEAA (the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency) several times since spring 2013 to express our concerns with the project and requested bilateral consultation. The Crown has refused, stating that because of the distance between our traditional lands and the terminal it is not required.”
“If BC thinks it can partner with foreign oil and gas companies, pick where pipelines and plants are to be sited, all the while ignoring the science that says industrial development on the Skeena Estuary is risky and foolish, and then pretend to ‘consult’ with First Nations after the fact, they have fundamentally misunderstood their legal and moral obligations to First Nations,” added Chief Na’Moks of the Wet’suwet’en Tsayu Clan. [Colored & bold emphasis added.]
British Columbia has vastly scaled back its expectations for its anticipated liquefied natural gas riches, in sharp contrast to the political high hopes for the province’s fledgling LNG industry during last year’s election campaign.
Blaming declining global prices for LNG and rising construction costs, the B.C. Liberal government introduced legislation on Tuesday that slashes its proposed rate for an LNG income tax, and adds tax incentives for LNG companies, meaning the province is now banking on a smaller flow of revenue. [Colored & bold emphasis added.]
Jordan Cove Energy Project is seeking state permission to release 2.1 million metric tons of carbon dioxide and equivalents annually, equal to 3 percent of the state's greenhouse emissions during 2013.
[The] plant would cloud state efforts to meet carbon reduction goals established by the Legislature in 2007. And [would] spotlight the contrast between environmental rhetoric and economic realities when it comes to carbon reduction and energy exports.
President Obama reached a historic commitment with Chinese President Xi Jiping on Nov. 12 to reduce carbon emissions. That was a week after the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission released its draft environmental analysis of the Jordan Cove project, saying it would have a limited environmental impact that could be reduced to non-significant levels. FERC has so far approved four LNG export facilities, and Jordan Cove could be the fifth.
Most of Jordan Cove's carbon emissions would come from energy used to liquefy natural gas for shipping. That requires a dedicated power plant on the North Spit of Coos Bay with a capacity of 420 megawatts – enough to serve more than 400,000 homes.
Jordan Cove also needs to purify incoming gas before liquefying it, and the carbon dioxide extracted would be vented to the atmosphere, accounting for about 20 percent of overall emissions.
[LNG opponents] also believe that [FERC] analysis should include a significant source of carbon that is currently ignored: emissions from increased gas drilling. While federal studies conclude that 60 to 80 percent of LNG exports will be supplied by increased production, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission has refused to examine the environmental costs, saying it sees no link between export projects and induced production. [Colored & bold emphasis added.]
Russia and China have signed two large natural gas deals in the last six months as Russia turns its attention eastward in reaction to sanctions and souring relations with Europe, currently Russia's largest energy export market.
But the move has implications beyond Europe. In the department of everything is connected, U.S. natural gas producers may be seeing their dream of substantial liquefied natural gas (LNG) exports suffer fatal injury because of Russian exports to the Chinese market, a market that was expected to be the largest and most profitable for LNG exporters. Petroleum geologist and consultant Art Berman--who has been consistently skeptical of the viability of U.S. LNG exports--communicated in an email that Russian supply will force the price of LNG delivered to Asia down to between $10 and $11, too low for American LNG exports to be profitable.
The problem has been that overproduction and low prices--now only a fraction of the $13 per thousand cubic feet (mcf) at the peak in 2008--have undermined the financial stability of the natural gas drillers. Here's why: Natural gas from shale, referred to as shale gas, is generally more expensive to produce than conventional natural gas and will require that natural gas prices go much higher than they are today--from around $4 per mcf almost certainly to over $6 per mcf and perhaps more to pay the costs of bringing that gas out profitably.
But at that price, U.S. LNG is no longer competitive in Europe. And now, because of the Russian-Chinese natural gas pipeline deals, it may no longer be competitive in Asia. Those are the two largest markets for LNG. Without them it is doubtful that the United States will be exporting much LNG--except perhaps at a loss.
It's possible that some U.S. LNG export projects may move forward in any case. If the buyers for this LNG sign long-term, cost-plus contracts as described above, those buyers will be in for a big surprise when U.S. natural gas prices rise. And those exports will create something of a self-reinforcing feedback loop by raising overall demand which will hoist domestic prices even higher for U.S. natural gas--even more so if there is not as much U.S. production as is currently being projected. If U.S. natural gas production remains at or below the level of domestic consumption, the United States could be faced with the rather bizarre prospect of having to import high-priced LNG from some countries to fill the gap created by LNG export shipments committed to others. [Colored & bold emphasis added.]
Webmaster's comment: Is Downeast LNG paying attention?
2014 November 9
FERC has revised the schedule for its environmental review of Sabine Pass LNG’s Stage 3 expansion, consisting of the construction of liquefaction Trains 5 and 6 at its LNG export terminal under construction in Cameron Parish, La., and the expansion of interconnected pipeline facilities. FERC initially planned to issue an Environmental Assessment (EA) for the project on August 1, 2014, but now plans on issuing the EA on December 12, 2014. Other federal agencies having jurisdiction over the project will have until March 12, 2015 to complete their review.
FERC has approved Gulf South Pipeline’s request to commence pre-filing environmental review of its proposed Coastal Bend Header Project, consisting of construction and operation of approximately 65 miles of 36-inch diameter pipeline interconnecting Tennessee Gas Pipeline Company’s system in Wharton County, Texas with the Freeport LNG terminal in Brazoria County, Texas. The project will provide 1.54 Bcf/day of gas to serve the Freeport LNG liquefaction terminal.
The British Columbia B.C. Environmental Assessment Office (EAO) has accepted LNG Canada’s application for an environmental assessment certificate for its proposed LNG export terminal at Kitimat, B.C. According to the press release, the application now begins a 180-day application review phase, after which the EAO will refer its report and recommendations to the Minister of Environment and the Minister of Natural Gas Development, who will decide whether or not to approve the project, or request further information.…
The Globe and Mail is reporting the newly appointed President of Pacific NorthWest LNG, Michael Culbert say he’s in the process of finding new ways of addressing concerns surrounding the potential harm to the salmon habitat, brought to light by environmental and aboriginal opposition.
One the means of lessening ecological impact being proposed by Pacific NorthWest is the construction of a 1.6 kilometre suspension bridge, designed to minimize dredging and avoid damage to the eelgrass beds in Flora Bank.
The opposition says their views continue to be ignored because the project proponents think the group’s members are too far away from the estuary of the Skeena River near Lelu Island.
Nisga’a Nation confirmed its benefits agreement with Prince Rupert Gas Transmission to provide right of way certainty for its proposed LNG pipeline project from northeastern British Columbia to the proposed Pacific NorthWest LNG export facility at Lelu Island near Prince Rupert.
PRGT is proposing to design, build, own and operate and decommission a 900 km natural gas pipeline project to deliver natural gas from a point near Hudson’s Hope to the proposed Pacific Northwest LNG facility at Lelu Island, near Prince Rupert. The benefits agreement will, in consideration of the substantial financial and other benefits that will accrue to the Nisga’a Nation under the agreement, allow approximately 97 Km of the proposed project to run through Nisga’a Lands owned by the Nisga’a Nation and the Provincial Nisga’a Memorial Lava Bed Park.
Moments before the official signing of the document, peaceful protester and Nisga’a member Grant Barton walked towards the presidents with a sign and mentioned that he represented 20 family members who were not consulted regarding the agreement.
“Turn around, where are the Nisga’a?” asked Barton. “This is a sad day. We have people over here to say we do not consent to this.”
The presidents of the Nisga’a nation, Prince Rupert Gas Transmission Project and Pacific Northwest LNG, on the brink of signing a "benefit agreement" to provide “right of way certainty” for a proposed LNG pipeline project, calmly exchanged looks. They waited while protester left the room, then they proceeded with the signing.
“We are not against our leaders; we are with them,” said Woods. “We had a consultation meeting a year ago. They said they would have follow up meetings. They did not give us follow up meetings”
Nisga’a members are planning two protests against the benefits agreement next week.
First Nations throughout the Skeena Watershed have declared their opposition to the proposed Petronas LNG project on Lelu Island, citing a lack of consultation and massive damage to salmon habitat.
"When BC, the Prince Rupert Port Authority and Petronas sited a massive LNG development on the Skeena River's most critical salmon habitat, they created the legal obligation to consult and accommodate First Nations who have an interest in Skeena salmon,” said President and Chief Negotiator for the Gitanyow First Nation Chief Malii or Glen Williams.
First Nations throughout the Skeena Watershed have declared their opposition to the proposed Petronas LNG project on Lelu Island, in the heart of the Skeena Estuary.
…“When BC, the Prince Rupert Port Authority and Petronas sited a massive LNG development on the Skeena River’s most critical salmon habitat, they created the legal obligation to consult and accommodate First Nations who have an interest in Skeena salmon. We have written CEAA several times since spring 2013 to express our concerns with the project and requested bilateral consultation. The Crown has refused, stating that because of the distance between our traditional lands and the terminal it is not required. This flawed reasoning does not uphold the honor of the Crown. Despite this we have continued to do our homework and we now have concrete scientific evidence that shows our salmon rely on these area and anything they do in these sensitive ecosystems need to be vetted through our Chiefs. The lack of consultation is unacceptable, industry and government have completely ignored our constitutionally protected rights and we will not stand for it.”
The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission on Friday issued its long-awaited draft environmental impact statement for the controversial Jordan Cove Energy Project. The conclusions are similar to its previous determination when Jordan Cove was proposed as a gas import project.
It has pitted environmental, property rights and community groups against energy companies, labor groups and local business interests for the last decade. It was first proposed as a terminal to import natural gas, and is now being pushed as a profitable way to export North America's booming gas supplies to lucrative market in Asia.
The latest analysis is supposed to offer an unbiased analysis of the need for the facility, possible alternatives and environmental consequences. Whether FERC accomplished that is in the eye of the beholder, though it will take everyone time to digest the 5,000 page tome, which is based on company submissions, independent research and comments from government agencies and members of the public.
Opponents dismissed FERC's "no big deal" conclusion as par for an agency that they say has rubber stamped most similar applications and considers its job to facilitate the development of projects like Jordan Cove.
State authorities in Oregon still need to weigh in on whether the project meets clean air and water standards and is consistent with land use planning under the Coastal Zone Management Act, among other permits.
The state's body language on FERC's new analysis will be important for the project. It sued to stop Jordan Cove after it was approved as an import terminal in 2009, in part because it considered FERC's analysis so shoddy. The political backdrop to the project has shifted since then, both nationally and locally.
"It will take litigation to get FERC to comply with NEPA," said Ron Sadler, a retired Bureau of Land Management employee who lives in North Bend. "The Oregon attorney general will play a big role in that process." [Colored & bold emphasis added.]
The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has released streamlined procedures for processing applications for changes in control for pending gas import and export applications and existing authorizations.
The DOE regulations require applications to export natural gas from the United States to identify “all the participants in the transaction, including the parent company, if any, and identification of any corporate or other affiliations among the participants,” stands in the revised document.
In many cases, either before or after a final export authorization has been issued, ownership or management of the exporting entity changes hands, resulting in a change in control (CIC). This document sets forth procedures that will apply when applicants to import or export natural gas or those entities that have already received an import or export authorization undergo changes in control. [Colored & bold emphasis added.]
2014 November 3
The natural gas pipeline expansion now under consideration by the state Public Utilities Commission could relieve a bottleneck that spikes energy prices during winter cold snaps, giving a boost to commercial users. It also could leave ratepayers on the hook for as much as $1.5 billion.
Proponents say the public investment would pay for itself in the form of lower heating and electric costs, particularly during the winter, when high demand causes spikes in the price of electricity produced by gas-fired plants.
But if demand for natural gas is slack, and the state can’t find a private buyer for the gas it already has paid for, businesses and residents would see an uptick in their monthly electric bills.
…[E]nergy prices can change quickly, because of factors far outside the control of Maine officials. Analysts disagree on the future of natural gas prices, but natural gas is being used more and more to generate electricity, particularly as nuclear and coal-fired plants go offline. Natural gas exports are likely to rise, as well, and domestic production will only get more expensive. The upward pressure on price will be considerable.
And a billion-dollar investment in a fossil fuel would hinder Maine’s ability to build a more diverse energy portfolio. For comparison’s sake, the Statoil project that would have placed floating wind turbines off the Maine coast, with a chance of making the state a leader in an emerging technology, was slated to cost ratepayers $200 million over 20 years. [Colored & bold emphasis added.]
Moniz says producing Alaska gas “would not materially impact the lower-48 natural gas market” and “will improve energy security for many U.S. allies and trading partners.” The upbeat letter (attached) is a shot-in-the-arm to Alaska’s long-awaited natural gas pipeline project.
Calgary’s AltaGas moves closer to taking over insolvent LNG proposal
Last week, the B.C. Supreme Court approved a plan of arrangement for Douglas Channel LNG, a company which has been under court protection from creditors since late last year after running out of money.
If the restructuring plan is approved by creditors and sanctioned by the court, AltaGas and its partners will take ownership and build what it says could be the first British Columbia liquefied natural gas export terminal.
Calgary investment bank Peters & Co. recently said it expects only one to three B.C. LNG export terminals to be operating by 2025 from a list that has grown to 18 proposals.
The gas boom is set to kick off from next year as LNG export volumes rise 70 per cent in 2015/16 and by an average of 42 per cent per year to 2018.
"Australia is set to overtake Qatar to become the largest exporter of LNG in the world," HSBC's Downunder Digest said. [Colored & bold emphasis added.]
Webmaster's comment: Australia is one significant reason why US LNG export prices and revenue will be taking it on the chin. Is Downeast LNG paying attention? Apparently not.
A Synopsis of Current Science
The climate impacts of producing natural gas and exporting liquefied natural gas (LNG) have been analyzed in peer-reviewed studies over the last three years. We now have a clear outcome:
- Natural gas consumption – at home or abroad – exacerbates greenhouse gas pollution; and
- Natural gas production and LNG exports offer no substantive reduction of carbon pollution over other fossil fuels.
Therefore, natural gas cannot be a “bridge to the future.” This synopsis explains why.
2014 November 2
Capacity will be double what was planned at the liquefied natural gas facility at the Strait of Canso if permitting changes go through, the owners announced Friday.
“Obviously, the Marcellus in the United States and the offshore in Nova Scotia have enough easily for two (million tonnes per annum) each,” said Salmon.
Increasing capacity won’t change plans to transport the gas to Nova Scotia by pipeline, he said.
Competing projects will still be six months to a year behind [Bear Head LNG Export Projet] opening if the development schedule continues according to plan, said chief operating officer John Godbold. [Colored & bold emphasis added.]
Webmaster's comment: The US prohibits natural gas from being exported to Canada if Canada intends to export it to a third country. The Bear Head LNG project would require a significant amount of natural gas to be shipped by reversing flow direction of the Maritimes and Northeast Pipeline from Massachusetts, through Maine, to Nova Scotia.
[New Brunswick Premier Brian Gallant] said he told TransCanada that it should consider a second pipeline to carry natural gas, in addition to the oil pipeline already planned.
Like the oil pipeline, Saint John would be the end of the line for the natural gas pipeline. Gallant said the presence of the Canaport LNG terminal is one of the reasons why the Energy East pipeline should be twinned.
If a reliable supply of natural gas is found, the Canaport LNG terminal could be converted to an export facility, which would be a multi-billion-dollar project. [Colored & bold emphasis added.]
My brother in law told [the pipeline survey team] to leave and they did. He had a shotgun with him so they left quickly.'
People living along the proposed route of a natural gas pipeline through Michigan have been bombarding federal regulators with letters opposing the project planned by ET Rover Pipeline Company LLC.
The following letters were among hundreds FERC has received since ET Rover announced its plans in June. Although ET Rover is not required to respond, it, too, has filed correspondence with FERC that sheds light on the issues. Excerpts from that correspondence are included below.
Webmaster's comment: This pipeline is to deliver US natural gas to Ontario, Canada.
- Almont, Mich.
Survey teams showed up to our home walked onto our property, drove their vehicles onto our property & we were never given any notice or warning of them wanting to do this. ET Rover has shown that private land & citizens rights mean absolutely nothing to them. The fact that they continue to use strong arm tactics is what is so concerning to us. If this truly is an honest project for the good of the American people than why all the bullying?
- Grand Blanc, Mich.
Then on September 29, 2014, the surveying crew showed up. The Mundy Supervisor was there because I had the township asking what my rights were. The Supervisor tried to get information from the ET Rover head representative. The ET rep became irate and ranted about how we land owners were being unreasonable.
After the Supervisor left to consult with the township attorney, ET’s crew showed up and the representative came to my door again. I stayed inside and said that I couldn't physically stop him, but I did not want them on my land. The crew, including a female "Security Officer" preceded to come onto the land. My brother in law told them to leave and they did. He had a shotgun with him so they left quickly.
The liquefaction project will be comprised of three-train natural gas liquefaction facilities with an export capability of 12 million tonnes per annum of liquefied natural gas (LNG), or approximately 1.7 billion cubic feet per day. All three trains are expected to commence operations during 2018, with the first full year of operations in 2019.
The Cameron LNG liquefaction project received final approval to operate by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission in June 2014 and, last month, received the U.S. Department of Energy's final authorization to export LNG to non-free-trade-agreement (FTA) countries.
BY 2020, B.C.’S LNG sector could emit enough air pollution to rival the Alberta oil sands, and the B.C. Liberal government’s proposed legislation to regulate industry emissions does nothing to stop that, critics of the bill have warned.
“There are major loopholes, and greenhouse gases are going to be emitted through those loopholes at a massive number,” said Spencer Chandra Herbert, Opposition critic for the environment. “If B.C. gets five plants, that could potentially double the amount of greenhouse gas emissions in the province.”
In a telephone interview, [Green Party MLA Andrew Weaver] said in its current form, Bill 2 will fail to control greenhouse gas emissions because it acts as an “intensity scheme” that places no actual limit on how much an LNG plant can pollute.
“It is not the world’s cleanest LNG; it is an accounting game,” Weaver continued. “We have a premier going out making hype messages and then the civil servant is left scrambling to develop policy, to deliver on the hype.”
“The B.C. government is missing a key point when it comes to recognizing the value of LNG in fighting climate change,” Horne said during a teleconference convened for the report's publication. “Without a global push for low carbon energy sources and efficiency, LNG will likely worsen rather than ease global warming.” [Colored & bold emphasis added.]
Canadian executive says global gas market is too uncertain to build now
“We’d always said [construction would begin] as early as 2016, but we now recognize it’ll likely be later, with commercial operations likely beginning early in the next decade,” she said in an interview with The Wall Street Journal.
BG Group’s project is one of 18 proposed for the B.C. coastline, with none yet given a green light.
And the company is now worried about shifting market conditions as more LNG becomes available. [Colored & bold emphasis added.]
The environmental benefits of LNG exports are being exaggerated in the absence of strong policies to combat climate change, a report Monday by the Pembina Institute concludes.
The report seeks to put the lie to the B.C. government’s claim in its February 2014 throne speech that exporting LNG is the “greatest single step British Columbia can take to fight climate change.”
Burns Lake, BC, Oct. 21, 2014 /CNW/ - Burns Lake Band [October 21] published their response to B.C.'s Environmental Assessment Official ("EAO") opposing the current EA processes for two LNG pipeline projects: TransCanada Pipeline's Coastal GasLink Project and the Pacific Northern Gas PNG Looping Project, both of which intersect Burns Lake's traditional territory in North Central B.C.
In a letter prepared through legal counsel, Burns Lake Band is seeking to have the EA processes for both projects revisited and done correctly, with the hindsight of Williams, asserting that B.C.'s EAO had a duty to meet with them to revisit the EA processes after Williams, knowing they applied the law wrong but instead moved forward with both EA processes.
Burns Lake Band is a small First Nation of the Wet'suwet'en Peoples, who were among the plaintiffs in the 1997 Delgamuukw decision of the Supreme Court of Canada; this Court's first statement that aboriginal title exists in B.C. [Colored & bold emphasis added.]
Despite this worldwide reaction to the growth of LNG, GPA insists on a plan to convert the Cabras generators to LNG from fuel oil as a "bridge to renewables." They risk locking Guam in a massive boondoggle that will cost us valuable time and resources in the transition to renewable energy.
Cost estimates could range as high as $1.5 billion. This price tag could put $40,000 solar photovoltaic systems on every residential roof in Guam and would virtually eliminate the need for imported hydrocarbon energy.
North American liquefied natural gas projects, once believed to be the panacea that would save Asia from paying top dollar for the super chilled fuel, are proving to be less of a game changer than originally expected.
LNG spot prices dropped from a multi-year peak at $20.50/mmBtu in February to a post-Fukushima low at $10.60/mmBtu in August, as demand growth slowed and as a run-off in global oil benchmarks pulled energy values lower.
…[C]ompetition from other emerging regions like East Africa will be fierce - particularly from frontier fields in Mozambique - and North American projects could be hindered by political and regulatory constraints.
"Gas exports in U.S. are still in a grey zone. Not forbidden, but not encouraged," said Chen Wei Dong, Senior Economist with CNOOC Energy Economics Institute.… [Colored & bold emphasis added.]
Webmaster's comment: Downeast LNG — late to the party, yet again.
“On the record before us, we hold that in conducting its environmental review of the Northeast Project without considering the other connected, closely related, and interdependent projects on the Eastern Leg, FERC impermissibly segmented the environmental review in violation of NEPA. We also find that FERC’s EA is deficient in its failure to include any meaningful analysis of the cumulative impacts of the upgrade projects. We therefore grant the petition for review and remand the case to the Commission for further consideration of segmentation and cumulative impacts.” [Colored & bold emphasis added.]
Webmaster's comment: FERC has a disgraceful record of abusing NEPA, just as it has done in its Downeast LNG Environmental Impact Statement.
It really is stunning to see how quickly the energy situation in America has changed over the past few years. Thanks to the combination of horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing, American energy companies found the keys to unlocking vast sums of energy trapped in tight rocks. We're now overflowing with oil and gas -- so much so that America could soon go from an importer of energy to an exporter of energy.
However, that future is in jeopardy due to the recent plunge in oil prices.
On the international markets LNG is typically priced by what are called oil-linked contracts. Under this link LNG sells for a percentage of the price of crude oil. We can see an example of this in a recent investor presentation by Cheniere Energy, which is currently building LNG export facilities in the U.S.
Under an oil-linked contract LNG would sell for $11 to $15 per MMBtu if the price of global crude oil benchmark Brent is at $100 per barrel. However, with Brent priced crude oil falling to about $85 per barrel, the price for LNG would drop to $9.35 to $12.75 per MMBtu under that same scenario. After adding in the additional costs to liquefy the gas and then ship it overseas, we're looking at much less savings for LNG buyers around the world. In fact, at about $80 per barrel, the discount to rival oil-linked LNG will basically vanish, causing a big problem for future LNG projects in America. [Colored & bold emphasis added.]
Webmaster's comment:Downeast LNG keeps throwing money at previous ideas.
The journal Editor & Publisher announced Wednesday that InsideClimate News, the Center for Public Integrity and The Weather Channel won a 2014 EPPY Award in the category of Best Investigative/Enterprise Feature on a Website for "Fracking the Eagle Ford Shale: Big Oil + Bad Air on the Texas Prairie."
"Big Oil + Bad Air," by reporters Lisa Song and David Hasemyer of ICN and Jim Morris of CPI, is an eight-month investigation that reveals the dangers of releasing toxic chemicals into the air from oil and gas drilling. It exposes how little the Texas government knows about such pollution in its own state, and shows that the Texas legislature is intent on keeping it that way.
Peer-reviewed results show 'potentially dangerous compounds and chemical mixtures' that can make people feel ill and raise cancer risk.
"The implications for health effects are just enormous," said David O. Carpenter, the paper's senior author and director of the University at Albany's Institute for Health and the Environment.
In 40 percent of the air samples, laboratory tests found benzene, formaldehyde or other toxic substances associated with oil and gas production above levels the federal government considers safe for brief or longer-term exposure, according to the study. Far above, in some cases.
It comes amid a growing body of research suggesting that the country's ballooning oil and gas production—cheek-by-jowl with homes and schools—could be endangering the health of people nearby. The Center for Public Integrity and InsideClimate News have been investigating this topic, mostly in the Eagle Ford Shale formation of South Texas, for the past 18 months.
A Yale University study released in September found that Pennsylvania residents living less than two-thirds of a mile from natural-gas wells were much more likely to report skin and upper-respiratory problems than people living farther away.
A Colorado School of Public Health analysis published in April found 30 percent more congenital heart defects in babies born to mothers in gas well-intensive parts of that state than to mothers with no wells within 10 miles of their homes. [Colored emphasis added.]
Falling oil price blunts appetite for U.S. LNG exports
Plunging global oil prices may turn hopes for cheap liquefied natural gas supplies from the United States into a costly disappointment for Asian buyers who have already invested billions of dollars in long-term contracts.
The 26 percent price slide since June to $85 a barrel exposes cracks in the assumption by utilities and industrial companies from Japan to India that cheap U.S. LNG would muscle into high-value Asian energy markets from 2016.
Oil prices form the backbone of LNG trade to Asia, because exporters outside the United States typically tie 25-year supply deals to crude oil prices. If prices continue to fall, these suppliers from Qatar to Australia will regain their edge over upstart U.S. producers.
The oil price drop has raised the possibility that some U.S. Gulf Coast LNG export plants may be mothballed before they ever get a chance to supply world markets.
"There are a number of potential projects chasing investment that look marginal at $80 a barrel," [an executive developing an as-yet-unannounced LNG project in Canada said] said.
"Once you get below $90 a barrel you start to get out of the money on U.S. LNG exports," said one LNG executive whose company is developing a major export project in east Africa.
"If the LNG gets dumped on North-West Europe, it could weaken the hub price to near $6 a mmBtu by around 2020," energy consultant David Ledesma said. Prices now are at $10 per mmBtu. [Colored & bold emphasis added.]
Webmaster's comment:Downeast LNG, chasing its own tail.