Plan to ‘electrify’ B.C. Montney depends on liquefied natural gas

A plan to make electricity widely available to natural gas facilities in Northeast British Columbia depends on whether or not proposed West Coast LNG projects go ahead.

The climate change plan B.C. Premier Christy Clark released Aug. 19 referred generically to “infrastructure” that would have to be built to “close the gap between electricity and natural gas costs” in B.C. Since then, B.C. government staff has explained the cryptic reference.

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The government’s plan is to use electricity to power gas production and processing facilities in Northeast B.C., while the infrastructure mentioned is the series of high-voltage transmission lines that would have to be built to the region, as well as other needed equipment, such as electric pumps and compressors.

Provincial government staff said B.C. Hydro’s proposed Peace Region Electricity Supply (PRES) project and ATCO Power’s proposed North Montney Power Supply (NMPS) project would allow low-carbon electricity to be supplied from the BC Hydro transmission grid to gas-processing facilities in the region.

However, the plan depends on West Coast LNG. 

“Construction of this electrification infrastructure will begin once LNG companies make their final investment decisions,” stated a note from B.C. government staff in response to queries from the Bulletin.

In recent months, some West Coast LNG projects have been postponed, while investment decisions on others have been delayed.

The B.C. government is also consulting with industry on programs to encourage use of electric equipment over gas-driven equipment in upstream gas production and processing facilities. 

Should the plan to ‘electrify’ the Montney go ahead, B.C. would partner with the federal government to invest the necessary capital to build the required power lines and infrastructure, staff said.

Provincial officials estimate full electrification of the Montney could avoid “up to” four megatonnes of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions per year, minimizing the GHG footprint of upstream gas development.

As well, government staff said broader electrification of the Montney formation will require the design of programs to make the cost of using electric pumps and compressors comparable to natural gas-driven equipment for upstream applications, in order to encourage electrification.

--Daily Oil Bulletin

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