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TC Energy Corp. chief executive officer François Poirier.Handout

Canada’s West Coast is positioned to become a reliable supplier of liquefied natural gas, but the East Coast faces pipeline constraints, says TC Energy Corp.’s TRP-T chief executive officer.

With Europe experiencing an energy crisis after Russia invaded Ukraine in February, François Poirier said he is optimistic West Coast exports to Asia will play an important role by injecting much-needed LNG supply into the global market.

“Even before the invasion in Ukraine, we were already seeing signs of tightening supply,” Mr. Poirier said in a phone interview from Calgary. “I see a great opportunity for Canada.”

TC Energy is constructing the $11.2-billion Coastal GasLink pipeline, which is designed to transport natural gas from northeast British Columbia to LNG Canada’s $18-billion export terminal currently under construction in Kitimat, B.C.

The first phase of the Kitimat facility will have the capacity to export 14 million tonnes of LNG a year to Asia, starting in 2025. A second phase being contemplated by LNG Canada, a consortium led by Shell PLC, would double the export capacity.

“We’re continuing to work closely with LNG Canada and are studying the feasibility of the second phase,” Mr. Poirier said.

However, he cautioned that transporting natural gas from Alberta to the East Coast would be difficult financially and logistically, compared with shorter distances for pipelines within B.C. or from Alberta to the West Coast.

“The Western Canadian basin being quite far away from the East Coast can make the economics challenging,” he said. “But there are other potential benefits – diversity of supply, security of supply – that can make East Coast LNG viable, and we have to assess them.”

LNG Canada supply route

Fort St. John

Coastal GasLink pipeline project

TC Energy Corp.’s Nova Gas

Transmission Ltd. (NGTL)

existing system

Dawson

Creek

Fort St. James

Prince

Rupert

Kitimat

Fraser

Lake

Prince George

BRITISH COLUMBIA

TC Energy Corp.’s Coastal GasLink natural gas

pipeline project has the support of all 20 elected

Indigenous band councils along the 670-kilometre

route from northeast B.C. to Kitimat. But the Office

of the Wet’suwet’en, governed by hereditary

chiefs, opposes the pipeline project, saying Indige-

nous authority rests with hereditary leaders, not

elected ones, over a large segment of the route.

LNG Canada project site

0

75

U.S.

KM

CANADA

Prince

Terrace

Rupert

Kitimat

Kitkatla

Douglas

Channel

Browning

Entrance

Banks

Island

Haida

Gwaii

BRITISH

COLUMBIA

Hecate

Strait

Klemtu

Pacific

Ocean

Queen

Charlotte

Sound

DETAIL

Kitimat River

Shell PLC is the largest

partner in LNG Canada,

with a 40 per cent stake.

The other partners are:

Malaysia’s state-owned

Petronas (25 per cent),

PetroChina (15 per cent),

Japan’s Mitsubishi Corp.

(15 per cent) and South

Korea’s Kogas

(5 per cent).

Existing site

LNG

Canada

site

Rio Tinto

plant

Marine

terminal

brent jang and JOHN SOPINSKI/THE GLOBE AND MAIL

SOURCE: lng canada; royal dutch shell;

coastalgaslink.com

LNG Canada supply route

Fort St. John

Coastal GasLink pipeline project

TC Energy Corp.’s Nova Gas

Transmission Ltd. (NGTL)

existing system

Dawson

Creek

Smithers

Prince

Rupert

Fort St. James

Kitimat

Fraser

Lake

Prince George

BRITISH COLUMBIA

TC Energy Corp.’s Coastal GasLink natural gas pipeline

project has the support of all 20 elected Indigenous band

councils along the 670-kilometre route from northeast

B.C. to Kitimat. But the Office of the Wet’suwet’en, gov-

erned by hereditary chiefs, opposes the pipeline project,

saying Indigenous authority rests with hereditary leaders,

not elected ones, over a large segment of the route.

LNG Canada project site

0

75

U.S.

KM

CANADA

Prince

Terrace

Rupert

Kitimat

Kitkatla

Douglas

Channel

Browning

Entrance

Haida

Gwaii

Banks

Island

Hartley

Bay

BRITISH

COLUMBIA

Hecate

Strait

Klemtu

Pacific

Ocean

Queen

Charlotte

Sound

DETAIL

BRITISH

COLUMBIA

Kitimat River

Minette Bay

Existing site

Shell PLC is the largest

partner in LNG Canada,

with a 40 per cent

stake. The other partners

are: Malaysia’s state-

owned Petronas (25

per cent), PetroChina (15

per cent), Japan’s Mitsubi-

shi Corp. (15 per cent) and

South Korea’s Kogas

(5 per cent).

 

LNG

Canada

site

Rio Tinto

plant

Douglas

Channel

Marine

terminal

brent jang and JOHN SOPINSKI/THE GLOBE AND MAIL

SOURCE: lng canada; royal dutch shell; coastalgaslink.com

LNG Canada supply route

Fort St. John

Coastal GasLink pipeline project

TC Energy Corp.’s Nova Gas Transmission

Ltd. (NGTL) existing system

Dawson

Creek

Mackenzie

Fort St. James

Smithers

Prince

Rupert

Kitimat

Fraser

Lake

Prince George

BRITISH COLUMBIA

TC Energy Corp.’s Coastal GasLink natural gas pipeline project has the support of

all 20 elected Indigenous band councils along the 670-kilometre route from

northeast B.C. to Kitimat. But the Office of the Wet’suwet’en, governed by hered-

itary chiefs, opposes the pipeline project, saying Indigenous authority rests with

leaders, not elected ones, over a large segment of the route.

LNG Canada project site

0

75

U.S.

KM

CANADA

Prince

Terrace

Rupert

Kitimat

Kitkatla

Douglas

Channel

Browning

Entrance

Haida

Gwaii

Hartley

Bay

Banks

Island

BRITISH

COLUMBIA

Hecate

Strait

Klemtu

Pacific

Ocean

Queen

Charlotte

Sound

DETAIL

Kitimat River

BRITISH

COLUMBIA

Existing site

Minette Bay

LNG

Canada

site

Rio Tinto

plant

Shell PLC is the largest

partner in LNG Canada, with

a 40 per cent stake. The other

partners are: Malaysia’s

state-owned Petronas (25 per

cent), Petro China (15 per

cent), Japan’s Mitsubishi

Corp. (15 per cent)

and South Korea’s Kogas

(5 per cent).

 

Douglas

Channel

Marine

terminal

brent jang and JOHN SOPINSKI/THE GLOBE AND MAIL, SOURCE: lng

canada; royal dutch shell; coastalgaslink.com

Proponents of two export proposals on the East Coast, Pieridae Energy Ltd.’s Goldboro LNG in Nova Scotia and Repsol SA’s Saint John LNG in New Brunswick, are examining the economics of shipping LNG to Europe. Yet the Maritime provinces don’t have access to sufficient pipeline capacity, with notable constraints in Central Canada and New England.

TC Energy, which owns a 35-per-cent stake in Coastal GasLink, has a 50-per-cent interest in TransQuébec & Maritimes & Northeast Pipeline’s system in Quebec.

The Calgary-based energy infrastructure company also has a 61.7-per-cent stake in the Portland Natural Gas Transmission System, or PNGTS, which runs in New Hampshire, Vermont and Maine.

TransQuébec’s system connects with PNGTS from Quebec into New Hampshire, and then follows a circuitous route that goes from Maine into New Brunswick on the Maritimes & Northeast Pipeline, which is 77.5-per-cent owned by Enbridge Inc.

While there has been renewed interest in East Coast LNG proposals, there isn’t a natural-gas pipeline within Canada to directly connect Quebec with New Brunswick.

“We are carefully studying the viability of delivering natural gas to the East Coast,” Mr. Poirier said. “We’re being careful in light of significant financial and regulatory challenges.”

The International Institute for Sustainable Development said in a report last month that the European Union has ambitious plans to attain climate goals, and it makes sense to focus on renewables such as wind power and solar energy instead of perpetuating the use of fossil fuels.

“Canadian LNG is not the solution for the EU’s desire to get off Russian gas,” the institute said in its report.

But Mr. Poirier said there are no shortcuts in the lengthy transition from fossil fuels to renewables, describing LNG as a crucial commodity in the energy transition, with lower greenhouse-gas emissions than coal.

“We’re faced with the challenge of achieving the energy transition while at the same time looking for more sustainable forms of energy,” he said. “LNG, in my view, is going to be and needs to be an important part of the solution.”

LNG Canada’s facility, which is located on the traditional territory of the Haisla Nation, would become the first LNG export terminal to open in Canada.

“Right now, the priority is let’s start with LNG Canada and getting it in service,” Mr. Poirier said. “This project is going to put Canada on the map as a global LNG supplier.”

Three other ventures in B.C. have proposals to export the fuel to Asia as early as 2027: Cedar LNG in Kitimat; Woodfibre LNG near Squamish, B.C.; and Ksi Lisims LNG in northern B.C.

As Europe seeks to wean itself off natural gas from Russia, there already has been a resurgence on the continent of coal-fired generation for electricity, said Robin Campbell, president of the Coal Association of Canada.

“Foreign countries are looking for energy security and coal gives them that security,” Mr. Campbell said. “There’s a lot of talk about LNG, but Canada doesn’t have any LNG plants built.”

In sharp contrast, seven LNG export terminals are already operating in the United States, and at least another five facilities, including expansions at three existing sites, are likely to open by 2028.

Work on the contentious Coastal GasLink project is almost three-quarters finished, including completion of the Wilde Lake compressor and meter facility in northeast B.C. Two of the eight pipeline sections along the route have been completed, but construction is behind schedule in the area near Houston, B.C.

The Haisla Nation and 19 other elected band councils along Coastal GasLink’s route have approved the pipeline project.

“I can’t emphasize enough that North America has the resources and the responsibility to the world and to our allies to deliver more LNG,” Mr. Poirier said. “We are going to create prosperity for Indigenous peoples and for the Canadian economy at large.”

Yet Wet’suwet’en Nation hereditary chiefs who oppose Coastal GasLink say elected Indigenous leaders don’t have jurisdiction over the Wet’suwet’en’s traditional territory.

About 190 kilometres of the 670-kilometre pipeline route cross the Wet’suwet’en’s territory, known as their “yin tah.”

Hereditary chiefs say Coastal GasLink recently denied them access to their unceded lands while crews resumed preparation work near Houston for micro-tunnelling under the Morice River, or “Wedzin Kwa.”

The river has been “sacred to the Wet’suwet’en since time immemorial, raising significant concern to hereditary chiefs and many across the yin tah,” said a statement issued on behalf of hereditary chiefs.

The statement also criticized the B.C. and federal governments for the “failure to fulfill commitments” after hereditary chiefs and two cabinet ministers signed a memorandum of understanding that outlines an expedited process to implement rights and title over the Wet’suwet’en’s traditional territory.

Mr. Poirier said it’s up to hereditary chiefs who oppose Coastal GasLink to work out internal governance issues with elected Indigenous leaders who support the pipeline project.

“We recognize those who remain opposed. We may never reach unanimity,” he said. “We understand that there are matters that go beyond this project and industry that need to be addressed.”