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Canaport LNG plays a critical role in the region

  • Issued By: S. Raju
  • City / State: Mumbai, Maharashtra
  • Phone: +91 22 27578668
  • Company Website: http://www.bharatbook.com/
  • Submitted: March 8, 2011 1:17 pm


Mumbai, Maharashtra, March 8, 2011:

Plans to build a massive liquefied natural gas terminal on the east coast of Nova Scotia may have been scrapped due to lack of demand, but the prospects for Saint John’s own LNG terminal still look good, says a top executive with Repsol.

Phil Ribbeck, president of Repsol Energy North America - that has a 75 per cent stake in the Canaport LNG terminal – said in a phone interview that the outlook for the Saint John facility remains strong.

“The Canaport terminal is needed,” Ribbeck said. “We provide a service right now that no one else can provide.” The executive said the Port City’s terminal has a “critical” role to play in maintaining a stable supply of natural gas in the region.

“Natural gas production is not always steady and it’s not always predictable. You need a buffer that is effectively able to ensure that the markets always get the steady amount of natural gas supply that they’ve ordered.”

Ribbeck said Canaport provides an extension of natural gas supply to power generators and local distribution companies in the New England market.

The terminal – the other 25 per cent of which is owned by Fort Reliance, the parent company of Irving Oil Ltd. – delivers natural gas to the Maritimes and Northeast Pipeline through the Brunswick Pipeline. Back in March, Ribbeck said Canaport plans to double its winter output to New England in 2010-11, up to 800 million cubic feet of natural gas a day.

In August 2009, Exxon Mobil Corp’s Sable Offshore Energy Project in Nova Scotia was offline for about two weeks undergoing maintenance. At the time, Canaport said it stepped in to fill the gap and serve customers in Atlantic Canada and the United States.

Ribbeck admitted that recent developments of shale gas in both the United States and New Brunswick, may decrease demand for imported natural gas. But, he said, shale gas development in the province might not pan out, or power generators in the United States currently running coal or nuclear plants might look to switch to a different fuel.

“Regardless of where the need is, Canaport LNG is perfectly positioned to be the most competitive supplier to that region for a long time to come,” Ribbeck said, adding, “We already have the facility in a position where we can expand it very easily.” He said it’s not economic right now, but Canaport would also consider serving markets in Central Canada down the road if the demand was there.

Damien Gaul, an economist and LNG specialist at the U.S. Energy Information Administration, said the decision to cancel the $750 to $900-million Maple LNG terminal planned for Goldboro – about 200 kilometres east of Halifax – was “not really that surprising.”

“The market opportunity is no longer as strong or as big as it was in the past,” he said in a phone interview. “There’s enough capacity on the East Coast of North America to handle our expected imports of LNG for the next couple of decades,” he added, noting that forecasts for large increases in LNG shipments to North America turned out to be wrong.

“We reached our peak in 2007 – we were not expecting that to be the case. It doesn’t look like we’re going to exceed the peak in 2010 and it’s not likely to happen in 2011.”

The market for LNG imports in the region slowed down for two reasons, said Gaul. First, countries outside of North America were willing to pay more for natural gas, and second, the development of shale gas resources occurred quite quickly and successfully.

However, according to Gaul, some existing terminals, such as Canaport, have certain advantages that may see them utilized at a higher rate. “It’s very strategically located to serve northeast U.S. and Eastern Canada markets,” he said of the terminal in Saint John.
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Bharat Book Bureau
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Fax: +91 22 27579131
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