Transport, Climate Committee, Strange LNG Answers and AVICC Conference

Here we go!

VIEA Intermodal Transportation Forum

On Tuesday March 31st I went down to Victoria with Councillor McLeman for the Vancouver Island Economic Alliance forum on Transportation.  This was a very exciting event.

You might be wondering what the VIEA is… well, I’m not entirely sure honestly.  But my understanding is that they are an organization that has brought together all of the Island’s municipal governments and business and transportation interests to create a united front from which to lobby the provincial government to invest more on our Island.  They have taken up the specific cause of furthering Intermodal Transportation on the Island.  Everything from airports to seaports to freight rail and commuter rail and walking and cycling, fast ferries and helicopters.

Here’s a good video that they made for the Forum last week.

The Forum on Tuesday was a place to meet lots of other people interested in transportation on the Island.  I am hopeful that a comprehensive transportation plan comes out of the effort.  What seems most clear is that in order for all of the things to happen that need to happen, there needs to be cooperation between communities and an effort to figure out what projects can benefit the most people and thus be the strongest to bring forward to senior government.  Keep your eye on this organization, I think it could be important.  Their next big conference is in the Fall.

First Food Security and Climate Change Committee meeting

On Thursday April 2nd, the Food Security and Climate Change Committee (FSCCC) met for the first time at City Hall.

It was just an introductory meeting and the main items were to select a chair, vice-chair and minute taker, go through the terms of reference and mechanics and expectations of the committee and generally just get to know everyone.

The committee members are Samantha (Sam) Brownlee (Chair), Chris Alemany (Vice-Chair), Guy Langlois (Secretary), Sandra Gentleman, John Mayba, Rosalind Chapman, Gary Swann, and Bob Haynes.

The agendas are posted on the FSCCC webpage on the City website before every meeting and the minutes should be posted there as well once they are approved by City Council at the following regular council meeting.  The webpage will also likely be used for other information sharing of reports and things generated by the City and Committee to do with Food Security and Climate Change.

The Committee will both be able to receive input and ideas for initiatives from the public or through its own membership and it will also serve as a place City Council can refer items for further study.  In all cases, the Committee will be expected to report to Council periodically with recommendations on ways to move Food Security and Climate Change issues forward in the City.

The official meeting schedule will be posted soon.  They will be held on the first Thursday of every month at 4:30PM at City Hall.  They are open to the public.

For next time, the Committee agreed to have each member bring 3 suggestions on projects or initiatives to work on.

Steelhead LNG questions – Don’t go looking for Jobs Tomorrow.

As anyone who has followed this blog will know I am more than a little skeptical of the Steelhead LNG project for a number of reasons.  There was a poll recently online at the AVTimes that indicated people wanted the LNG project to happen.  I presume this is because people see it as a big economic driver and indeed it is being sold that way.  But is that realistic?

proposed_facility1
Sarita Bay – The proposed location of the project.

Right after I got back from the VIEA  forum I drove back from Victoria and straight to the Barclay Hotel where Steelhead LNG was holding their first community open house.   There was plenty of information available on the project, it’s location, the potential for jobs and development, etc.  Much of the same information is on its website.

 

This week I found the National Energy Board (NEB) website that holds the public documents Steelhead is required to file in order to further their LNG terminal application.  Most recently (March 13th) Steelhead filed a response to some key questions from the NEB.  So what did the NEB ask?

First question from NEB:

Please provide the precise geographical information on the proposed points of exportation of the gas from Canada.

Answer from Steelhead:

The point of export of LNG from Canada will be at the outlet of the loading arm of proposed natural gas liquefaction terminals which are anticipated to be located in the Southern region of Vancouver Island, British Columbia.

This answer strikes me as a little… vague… especially to a question asking specifically for “precise geographical information”.   Perhaps this is precise enough for the NEB.  But it certainly seems strangle, especially when the company has long promoted the Sarita Bay location so publicly and specifically.

Third question from NEB: (you can see all of them by going to the pdf)

Request:

Please provide:

(a)  An explanation of the apparent deficit in 2045 between Navigant’s forecast of the surplus of Canadian production available for export of 2.7 Bcf/d and the request by the five Applicants to export up to 4.88 Bcf/d.

(b)  A Canadian production forecast to 2050.

(c)  An explanation of any deficit in 2050 between Navigant’s forecast of the surplus of Canadian production available for export and the request by the five Applicants to export up to 4.88 Bcf/d.

 

Their response is very very lengthy.  But I’d like to point out the serious issues this question raises.  First, and foremost, if one is to believe the public presentations, and the way the public is being engaged so heavily, one would think that this project was just around the corner.  Maybe 10 years away at latest?  It could be a huge job generator, it’s a huge plant, this all seems very good and many would be excited (other issues aside).

So why is the NEB talking about 2045 and 2050? That’s 30 and 35 years away!

Basically, the NEB has pointed out that 35 years down the road, when this project is supposed to be fully built, Steelhead is expecting to export over twice as much gas as all of the gas available for export in Canada.  And that is provided the NEBs own 30 year forecasts of production increases is correct…. which they most often are not.

Steelhead’s consultant, Navigant’s response boils down to an expectation that production from Canadian Shale gas will increase 20% faster than the base estimates.  

In Navigants words:

  1. The NEB’s comparison did not account for the fact that a modeled analysis of a “plus 20%” demand growth rate scenario would result in higher production levels driven by the increase in assumed demand.

So basically, Navigate and Steelhead are counting on massive expansion of Natural Gas production, and failure of other LNG Projects in BC and higher production than the NEB would expect, in order to ‘fill’ the full scale Steelhead project.Screen Shot 2015-04-09 at 10.04.52 PM

 

Are the forecasts above a reasonable assumption to make given global carbon cutting goals to 2050?  Is Canadian Natural Gas production really going to rise uninterrupted at nearly 3% a year for the next 35 years? And would the first phases of the project be able to pay for the cost of putting in the infrastructure if it will be 35 years before the full vision of the project is realized?

Will we even still be using Natural Gas in a big way in 2050?

I remain very sceptical of this project, and these questions and their given answers really only make me more so.  I hope people do not pin all their hopes and dreams of jobs in this LNG project.  Even the Raven Coal project had direct access to the product (coal) it was going to ship.  At this point… Steelhead might not have access to all of the product it expects for 35 years.  That is a mighty long time to wait, and the world could very well move far along by then.

Headed off to the Association of Vancouver Island and Coastal Communities Conference Friday (the 10th).

On Friday most of Council and the Mayor will be attending the annual AVICC conference being held in Courtenay.

This conference is a place for all of the island and sunshine coast municipalities and regional districts to gather, attend workshops on various topics of interest, and pass resolutions in a collective way to try to influence government on issues of importance to the entire Island.

This is sort of a little brother to the Union of BC Municipalities conference that happens every Fall, and a still littler brother of the Federation of Canadian Municipalities that encompasses every community in the Country.

Basically, it’s a place to learn, and network.  I am very much looking forward to it.  They are starting on Friday with a rally in support of better BC Ferry service.

The official agenda starts at 1:45PM and it’s packed through 5:30PM.