Montney natural gas producers are about to enjoy greater processing capacity with Phase 2 of Spectra Energy's Dawson Processing Plant coming online at the end of January.
The plant, located approximately 16 kilometres west of Dawson Creek, began processing natural gas from operations in the South Peace in the spring of 2012 at a Phase 1 capacity of 100 million cubic feet (mmcf) per day. Phase 2 adds another 100 mmcf per day of processing capacity to the facility, bringing the total processing capacity in the area to 1.6 billion cubic feet (bcf) per day.
"They're introducing some product onto the system today," said Spectra's Jay Morrison during a Jan. 25 interview.
"And then it will be up and running early next week."
Natural gas is delivered to the plant via Spectra's Bisette Pipeline, which was brought into service in 2011, where carbon dioxide (CO2), hydrogen sulphide (H2S) and natural gas liquids (NGLs) are removed. The resulting sales gas is subsequently moved to the NOVA Gas Transmission Groundbirch Pipeline via the Bessborough Pipeline.
The removed CO2, H2S and NGLs travel through the South Peace Pipeline to Spectra's McMahon Gas Plant in nearby Taylor along with unprocessed natural gas.
Morrison explained that the process of preparing Phase 2 to receive natural gas didn't end with the completion of construction.
"The final commissioning, which they're doing this week, required that they depressurize Phase 1," said Morrison.
"The depressurization allows them to actually tie-in mechanically and physically all of the Phase 2 into the Phase 1."
The shutdown valves within both Phase 1 and Phase 2 are also tested while the plant is depressurized, since depressurization rarely happens, but is necessary for that work to occur.
Depressurization took about ten hours starting on the morning of Monday, Jan. 21.
"About a week it will be depressurized and then they'll be bringing stuff back online shortly," said Morrison.
Phase 1 was operating at capacity at the time of depressurization; so, the expectation is that Phase 2 will run at capacity as well.
Still, the future demand for processing services at the site isn't exactly certain.
The plant is connected to a pipeline system that allows for transportation to Alberta, where oil sands operations are a major source of natural gas demand, or foreign markets, which are the focus of liquefied natural gas (LNG) discussion in British Columbia.
However, oil sands demand is partially tied to embattled plans to bitumen to the Gulf Coast and Asia via pipelines such as TransCanada's Keystone XL and Enbridge's Northern Gateway, while LNG exports from the B.C. coast are at least five years away.
"If there's future demand either domestically or internationally," said Morrison, "that's what will drive more growth in that area."