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Partners expect new LPG export facility to be a B.C. north coast stronghold

AltaGas says new jobs coming to Prince Rupert as liquid petroleum gas project begins clearing
The AltaGas terminal at the port of Prince Rupert. AltaGas and Royal Vopak are looking to get a final investment decision for the Ridley Island Energy Export Facility project in the summer of 2024. (Contributed)

Following the announcement that land clearing had begun for the Ridley Island Energy Export Facility (REEF), joint partner AltaGas says it is looking to become an industrial stronghold on the North Coast.

The proposed liquid petroleum gas (LPG) project at the Prince Rupert port has been in the works for some time. Initiated by Royal Vopak, then joined by AltaGas in April this year, a final investment decision is expected in the summer of 2024.

The site-clearing process and other early-stage work for the 190-acre area, which is leased from the Prince Rupert Port Authority (PRPA), is expected to be ongoing for the next six months.

According to Jennifer Osmar, senior director of external affairs and Indigenous relations for AltaGas, the site clearing is essential for the project’s goals of getting a positive outcome on the final investment decision.

Prince Rupert can expect similar results from the REEF project as it did from the Ridley Island Propane Export Terminal (RIPET) project, which opened in 2019, according to Osmar. There will be approximately 250 local construction jobs created once construction ramps up on the site, she said.

“The propane export business, the natural gas business didn’t exist in Prince Rupert before AltaGas arrived. So in the development of our project, we really did take the time to build strong relationships and to educate folks on what a propane export terminal was in order to develop the kind of trust and the kind of support for such a project in the Prince Rupert region.

“We’re looking at an array of of community benefits, local economic benefits beginning this week with the starting of our early work. We have local contractors out on site that are proceeding with the site preparation work.”

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On the environmental front, Osmar said AltaGas is keeping up with the necessary operation permits and are looking at duel fuel vessels from South Korea as a way to mitigate its environmental impact.

“The permits that we’ve received for the REEF project have committed AltaGas and Vopak to create a credible net-zero by 2050 plan and so that is a permit requirement in order to advance this week. So I offer that as a data point to demonstrate that governments are holding industry to the highest level of environmental consideration,” said Osmar.

”Those vessels will be able to be powered by propane as an alternative to marine diesel, which we’re anticipating will have significant emissions reduction on the marine side.”

Osmar said the company is extremely excited to get another LPG project started in Prince Rupert, citing an increased demand from South Korea and Japan.

“We’ve developed the relationships and the experience and the expertise to really understand our customer base and that really is what is informing the decision to continue to expand export capacity because the demand is there,” she said.

“Buyers in Asia and South Korea see Prince Rupert and they see the 10-day shipping distance as incomparable to the US Gulf Coast, which is 25 days or more through the Panama Canal. So that efficiency and security of supply from the west coast of B.C. through Prince Rupert is unmatched.”

Trigon Terminals and the PRPA are in the midst of a dispute over Trigon’s attempts to open its own LPG export facility, which the PRPA says violates its exclusivity rights with Royal Vopak and AltaGas for the REEF project. Osmar said the exclusivity rights are essential for the REEF project’s future.

“What we know is the relationship we have with the Port Authority, who has granted exclusivity to AltaGas and Vopak for the export of LPG,” she said.

“That exclusivity that has been provided to the joint venture for the REEF project is a critical measure that supports our final investment decision. It gives us security and confidence to be able to progress the project and to commit the kind of capital that is required.”

The REEF project is expected to bring a notable amount of federal and provincial taxes, according to Osmar who said the figures came from the project’s 2019 full economic assessment.

“Both provincial and federal taxation revenues are significant for the REEF project, we anticipate about $278 million in revenue for federal and provincial governments,” Osmar said.

Both Prince Rupert Mayor Herb Pond and Port Edward Mayor Knut Bjorndal have pledged their support to the REEF Project.

About the Author: Seth Forward, Local Journalism Initiative

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