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A 12-storey LNG storage tank. It is a rolled steel and double-walled, perlite-insulated cryogenic tank that can keep 1.5 billion cubic feet of natural gas in compressed liquid form.

AltaGas Ltd. and Japanese oil refiner Idemitsu Kosan Co. Ltd. have applied to the National Energy Board for a 25-year licence to export liquefied natural gas from northwestern British Columbia, adding to a slew of multibillion-dollar LNG proposals for the province.

Calgary-based AltaGas and Idemitsu signed an agreement in January to form their joint venture, which now has been named Triton LNG LP. Triton aims to export up to 2.3 million tonnes of LNG annually, or roughly 115 billion cubic feet from either Kitimat or Prince Rupert, B.C., the venture said in its nine-page application this week to the National Energy Board.

Energy companies in Japan, the world's largest importer of LNG, have been trying to secure LNG supply since the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster led to a prolonged shutdown of nuclear power reactors in the country. Japan has shown a keen interest in the fledgling energy business on the West Coast, notably constructing new LNG export terminals in northwestern British Columbia.

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Triton said it is preparing preliminary engineering designs, including a floating liquefaction storage and offloading (FLSO) vessel that will require 325 million cubic feet a day of feed gas.

"The LNG production will be offloaded from the FLSO vessel through a loading arm to LNG carriers for transport to export markets," according to the filing to the NEB. Gas would initially be fed into the Triton LNG project through a system that includes Spectra Energy Transmission and Pacific Northern Gas Ltd.

Triton plans to start LNG exports as early as 2017, subject to completing a feasibility study, consulting with First Nations and obtaining regulatory approvals.

Rich Coleman, the B.C. Minister of Natural Gas Development, recently returned from a 12-day trip to Asia, where he met with LNG supporters and investors in China, Malaysia and South Korea. So far, there are about a dozen LNG projects being pitched in British Columbia. Malaysian state-owned energy company Petronas is spearheading plans to invest $36-billion over three decades in a major LNG venture.

"It's important to have some competition in this field. LNG is a serious opportunity in Western Canada, particularly with the large amount of natural gas that we have in northeast B.C.," Mr. Coleman said in an interview. "The concern would be whether you have all your eggs in one basket; the answer is no. There are a number of opportunities and I think some of them are going to coalesce and become good projects for Canada and British Columbia."

Japan Petroleum Exploration has a 10-per-cent stake in the Pacific Northwest LNG project led by Progress Energy Canada Ltd., which was acquired by Petronas last year.

A subsidiary of Japan's Mitsubishi Corp. has a 20-per-cent stake in the Royal Dutch Shell PLC-led LNG Canada proposal, while Calgary-based Nexen Inc. has a partnership with Japan's Inpex Corp. for a rival LNG project. CNOOC Ltd. of China acquired Nexen last year.

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"Companies that are in this game have partnerships," Mr. Coleman said.

B.C. Premier Christy Clark will lead a trade mission to Asia that starts in November. She will kick off the tour on Nov. 22 in Beijing, promoting B.C. LNG as she visits China and then moves onto further talks in South Korea and Japan.

In its application to the NEB, Triton argued that natural gas reserves are plentiful in Canada. "The role of the board in considering a gas export application is to evaluate whether the gas to be exported is surplus to reasonably foreseeable Canadian requirements," Triton said.

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