Spectra Energy's Westcoast Connector Gas Transmission Project
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Spectra Energy is a US-based (Houston, Texas) company, formed in 2006, that is a major presence in the natural gas industry. The company operates more than 22,500 miles (36,225 km) of gathering and distribution piplelines in Canada and the United States. Since 2009, the company has been named to the Carbon Disclosure Project's leadership indexes. Nonetheless, according to Environment Canada, in 2010 Spectra Energy produced 32.5 percent (4,449,805 tonnes CO2 equivalent) of the greenhouse gases emitted from industrial facilities in British Columbia. Spectra's Fort Nelson and Pine River gas plants are the two largest single industrial emitters in the province.
Now Spectra Energy wants to build "up to two" 875-km long natural gas pipelines, overland from "Cypress" – about 110 km northwest of Fort St. John – to Cranberry Junction. From there, three route options are being considered: two marine, and one overland, to reach a proposed LNG plant site at Ridley Island, near Prince Rupert. Two other LNG plant sites are being considered: Kitsault and Nasoga.
The proposed pipeline(s) would transport up to 4.2 billion cubic feet of natural gas per day, all for export. This is 1.25 times the current domestic use of natural gas in BC. In other words, this proposal would require BC's natural gas production to more than double. BC has 8,000 fracking wells at present. This proposal would require that more than 16,000 fracking wells be on-stream by 2018.
The LNG plant that this proposed pipeline would feed (Prince Rupert LNG) would create greenhouse gas emissions equivalent to two-thirds of homes in BC, at a time when residential emissions must decrease by one-third over 2007 levels. This is one of four LNG plants currently proposed for development on the BC coast.
The BC Environmental Assessment Office (BCEAO) has approved the "Application Information Requirements" (AIR) for the project. This is the framework that the proponent will use to apply for its application for an Environmental Assessment Certificate.
You can read the AIR and other BCEAO documents here. You can read public comments on the Draft AIR here.
A review of the AIR reveals that many issues that were flagged at the document's draft stage were not addressed, along with a few other anomalies:
- Does Spectra plan to build one pipeline or two? This now appears to be purely an economic decision.
- Would Spectra be allowed to convert the pipeline(s) to use for oil?
- There is no mention of the potential to frack "midstream resources" - such as the Bowser Basin, north of Hazelton.
- The cumulative assessment parameters do not include a "no-go" possibility for the project as a result.
- Spatial boundaries for some of the potential impacts are far too restrictive.
- One route alternative would cut through through the Khutzeymateen complex of protected areas. The map for this alternative was left out of the original, approved AIR publication.
- How would BC meet its legal requirement for emissions reduction if this project were to go ahead?
- There is no provision for a clean-up and restoration bond if the project were to be abandoned or partly built.
To visit Spectra Energy's website, click here.