Has Canada Missed the LNG Boat?


source: The MJMEnergy Supply Handbook 2015 - 2035

"Any LNG project is the world's largest industrial project. Compare it with any other industrial project that manufactures something; there is nothing larger." [1]

Canada has around 2tcm of conventional gas reserves and an estimated unconventional gas reserve of 16.2tcm (EIA 2013), which is more than sufficient for large-scale LNG investment. But as Andy Calitz alluded to in the quote above an LNG project is very costly and not something to be entered into lightly. Financial Investment Decisions (FID), or rather the lack of, is the main reason why LNG projects never get off the ground. Currently there are around 24 project proposals in British Columbia to export LNG from Canada but only 4 look as though they might come to fruition, in the short term at least [2] .

Forecast for LNG Supply from Canada 2015 - 2035

The MJMEnergy LNG Supply Handbook 2015-2035 analysis assumes there are reasonable prospects for the earliest Canadian LNG projects, with the potential for significant LNG production by 2022 ranging from 14bcm in the Low Case to 52bcm in the High Case, with a Mid Case of 34bcm.

By 2035 the Low Case remains at 14bcm, Mid Case 60bcm, and High Case 102bcm. This very wide range reflects the fundamental uncertainty of the future of LNG production in Canada. [3]

Canadian LNG projects fit into two main categories

Most of the projects entail transporting gas from large deposits in Alberta and British Columbia to the West Coast, and then shipping it as LNG to Asia.

Other projects involve sourcing gas from reserves in Eastern Canada or the North-East US and shipping LNG to Europe and/or South America from the East Coast. One of the key issues will be the cost of pipeline and liquefaction capacity.

Assuming shale gas reserves are proven there is plenty of gas in Canada for various LNG projects to go ahead. Transporting it to liquefaction facilities will require significant new infrastructure, particularly for the West Coast, which will raise the costs for these projects.

Another consideration is the amount of competition from other LNG projects in the US and Australia particularly, as well as elsewhere, could depress prices. This would have a significant effect on contract prospects for LNG exports so securing investment and contract buyers is vital for Canada LNG to enter the market in a timely manner.

The Rising Four

AltaGas Ltd, Shell Canada Ltd, Petronas and Exxon Mobil Corp are all pegged to build LNG facilities and export LNG over the coming years. [4]

AltaGas hope to complete their Douglas Channel FLNG facility by 2018, although no FID has been made yet they still hope for this to be reached by the end of 2015. The hold-up is the import tax (25%) on the FLNG terminal, which is to be built in China. This has a significant price impact.

The Shell LNG Canada Kitimat project is proposing a 24mtpa ($50 billion) LNG plant. A huge investment in uncertain times raises questions if Shell will go ahead with this project having pulled the plug on the Arrow LNG project in Australia. Assurances are still being given that a FID could be reached in 2016 even though investors are a little uneasy about he current oil price. [5]

Petronas have a 62% interest in developing an initial 12mtpa at the Pacific NorthWest LNG project. They have hit many problems, including suffering form the fall in oil and gas prices, but insist they remain committed to the project. [6]

Exxon Mobil’s West Coast Canada LNG project has been making steady progress and is expecting to reach FID by 2018.


source: The MJMEnergy Supply Handbook 2015 - 2035

Conclusion

Canada has the potential to become a significant LNG player and will eventually float an LNG boat, or indeed several once positive FIDs start to be reached.

The question is if there is sufficient investment to bring these projects to life, who will buy the LNG and at what price to make it a profitable venture for their investors?

December 2015


Footnotes

  1. LNG Canada CEO Andy Calitz
  2. https://news.gov.bc.ca/factsheets/factsheet-lng-project-proposals-in-british-columbia
  3. www.mjmenergy.com/publishing/lngsh
  4. http://business.financialpost.com/news/energy/four-lng-projects-will-be-built-in-b-c-but-not-in-the-order-you-expect-analysts
  5. https://www.biv.com/article/2015/10/lng-canadas-50-billion-question-when/
  6. http://www.thestar.com.my/Business/Business-News/2015/10/09/Petronas-says-remains-committed-to-Canadian-LNG-project/?style=biz

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