Wednesday July 23, 2014

Bessborough residents excited about proposed Spectra plant

William Stodalka Photo

Bessborough resident Phil Haight examines a map detailing the location of a new liquid extraction facility that gas company Spectra Energy hopes to begin construction on as early as late 2013. Spectra held an information session to discuss the project on Nov. 15.

For Bessborough resident Charles Walker, a new liquid extraction facility near the Spectra plant near his community is a welcome addition.

“I don’t have words for it,” he said. “It’s great – just great.” Approximately 60 members of the public filled the Bessborough Hall approximately 30 kilometres northwest of Dawson Creek, last Thursday, to hear Savona, B.C.-based energy company Spectra Energy discuss a new liquid extraction facility.

This facility would produce natural gas product and dry shale gas, the type of gas typically sold to the general public.

The new facility would be located 16 kilometres west of Dawson Creek, adjacent to the already existing natural gas processing plant near Bessborough.

It would also include a pipeline that would travel 1.5 kilometres from the facility to the Nova Gas Transmission Limited (NGTL) Groundbirch pipeline.

The facility would receive “sweet” gas, a type of natural gas that is not known to contain the poisonous hydrogen sulphide, as “sour” gas contains.

It is expected to process 400 million cubic feet of natural gas per day.

Peter Murchland, a Spectra spokesman, said that his company is expected to get 300 local jobs during the plant’s 18-month construction phase. Construction is expected to begin sometime in 2014.

Murchland also said that 20 people are expected to be permanently employed afterwards.

Before this is done, the plant must also go through B.C.’s approval process. Currently, Spectra is working on a full project description to B.C.’s Environmental Assessment Office, according to materials present at the meeting. They expected that description to be finished by the end of this month.

The materials also state that they expect to submit an application to the B.C. Oil and Gas Commission, who regulate oil and gas within the province, by spring 2013.

Once that is done, Spectra expects the facility to begin construction by late 2013/early 2014 and be in service by 2015.

David Come, another Bessborough resident, also said that he thought that the plant was good for the community moving forward.

“The jobs are the biggest thing in the development of the area, as long as we can get the work locally instead of the work going outside,” he added.   

Another Bessborough resident, Phil Haight, said that the oil industry employs many of his and other Bessborough resident’s children.

However, he said that he felt the existing Spectra natural gas facility has negatively impacted the surrounding environment, and he expected that this new facility would add to these problems.

He pointed to problems such as noise, traffic, “a certain amount of smell”, and increased light pollution, which he has already seen in the area since the plant officially opened last July.

“Traffic is the big thing,” he said. “It bothers me more than anyone.”

He said that the area has changed from the quiet, rural area he found when he first moved to the area years ago.

“Industry is here so we pretty well have to accept some habitat loss.”

As well, while Haight admits the plant will benefit most people, he feels that he is being encroached upon.

“The benefits will outweigh the disadvantages for 95 per cent of the population,” he said. “But for myself, I’m not employed in the oil and gas industry.”

But for now, he has accepted the oil and gas industry’s presence in the area.

“We have to accept it,” he said. “We all need the oil and gas.”

He also said that Spectra has been good in their relations with local residents.

“They don’t just shove their way in,” he said. "They know better than to shove their way in.”

Materials present from Spectra also stated that results from an expected noise impact assessment will be used to ensure that the project meets OGC guidelines for the project.

The project materials also stated that the only air by-products produced by the plant will be from clean-burning natural gas, which gas advocates state produce less greenhouse gases than other forms of combustion.

“Spectra energy takes significant amount of energy to reduce impact to the community,” said Murchland. “We're here... to be transparent about our project and really enthused that the local residents are encouraged to support the project.”

This move is somewhat different from the opinions expressed publicly in 2010, when Spectra’s facility was first announced in Bessborough.

At the time, 39 nearby residents reportedly signed a petition against the facility because of the impact they felt that the plant would have on their community.

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