CALGARY - The National Energy Board has granted an export licence to LNG Canada Development Inc., a liquefied natural gas terminal proposed by Shell Canada Ltd. and three Asian partners in Kitimat, B.C.
Over a 25-year period, LNG Canada is allowed to export 670 million tonnes of natural gas, which will have been chilled into a liquid state, enabling it to be transported around the world via tanker.
Annually, LNG Canada will be able to export 24 million tonnes of gas.
The federal energy regulator says it's satisfied that the amount of gas to be exported doesn't exceed what will be needed within Canada.
The LNG Canada partnership includes Shell, South Korea's Kogas, Japan's Mitsubishi Corp. and China's PetroChina Company Ltd.
They have picked Calgary-based TransCanada Corp. (TSX:TRP) to build a 700-kilometre pipeline connecting prolific shale gas fields in northeastern B.C. to the port of Kitimat.
There are several projects in the works planned for both Kitimat and Prince Rupert, B.C., to export natural gas to lucrative Asian markets.
The North American price of natural gas has been depressed in recent years, as advances in drilling techniques unlock huge supplies from shale formations across the continent, leading to a supply glut.
Companies hope by connecting that fuel to higher-demand Asian markets, their product will fetch a much better price.
Last week, pipeline firm AltaGas Ltd. (TSX:ALA) and a Japanese company formed a partnership to explore shipping liquefied gas to Asia.
Malaysia's Petronas, which recently acquired Progress Energy Corp. for $6 billion, is planning to build an LNG facility near Prince Rupert capable of processing 12 million tonnes of gas per year.
U.S. energy giants Chevron Corp. and Apache Corp. are jointly developing another LNG terminal in Kitimat B.C. Chevron got involved in that project only recently after it bought out the stakes of Encana Corp. and EOG Resources. That plan envisions processing 10 million tonnes of gas per year.
Another proposal called BC LNG, owned by the Haisla First Nation and Houston-based LNG Partners, expects its first shipment in 2014.