Pacific Northern Gas (PNG) has entered the early stages of a public consultation process surrounding their proposal to twin, or loop, the existing natural gas pipeline running from Summit Lake B.C, 50 kms north of Prince George, to Kitimat.
The project, known as the PNG Looping Project, will also require upgrades to four existing compressor stations, and would have an initial capacity of approximately 600 million standard cubic feet (MMscf) of natural gas per day, up from the current single line capacity of 115 MMscf per day.
The PNG twinning project was recently introduced by written submission to both the Village of Burns Lake and the Regional District of Bulkley Nechako (RDBN) during regularly scheduled council and board meetings.
The western transmission pipeline connects to northeastern B.C. through a Spectra Energy pipeline, and has compressor stations near Vanderhoof, Burns Lake, and Telkwa, although the stations in Telkwa and Vanderhoof were decommissioned, but maintained for future use, with the closure of the Methanex methanol/ammonia facility in Kitimat in 2005.
Pacific Northern Gas serves over 20,500 residential and commercial customers in northwest B.C., but it does so with gas transmission lines that do With current line capacity at approximately 20 per cent of maximum, this means that PNG customers carry the cost of transmission – the line charge – spread out over only 20 per cent of full volume.
“This keeps line charges in northwest B.C. up to three times higher than line charges in other areas,” said RDBN chair Bill Miller.
The proposal to twin the existing gas line is coupled with a proposal to expand gas flow to serve new liquefied natural gas (LNG) export facilities in Kitimat. With added export facilities, PNG would increase line capacity and reduce transmission charges per unit of gas transported.
“This system expansion project would provide a major benefit to existing PNG customers, enabling PNG to provide a more secure supply of natural gas at a more competitive rate, leading to reduction in natural gas transportation costs for all existing customers in the project area,” said Greg Weeres, PNG president.
The proposed project involves laying 525 kms of 24 inch pipe between Summit Lake and Kitimat. The majority would follow the existing pipeline, but a detour would be made at the existing Telkwa compressor station, taking the line further northwest through a route described by PNG as being safer.
“[The new section] will follow a new route designed to avoid geotechnically unstable terrain and mitigate potential water crossing impacts,” Weeres said.
The proposal is still in early stages and will trigger both provincial and federal environmental review processes. Public open houses in communities potentially impacted by the work are planned starting in November 2013.
Parallel discussions to the public stakeholder consultations will be held with affected First Nations along the pipeline route.
The potential economic impact of construction and increased natural gas capacity have not be disclosed. Neither has the specific impact to consumer gas rates been estimated.