Even now that Shell has announced its decision to discontinue further development on the Prince Rupert LNG project, there are still nineteen LNG export proposals pending in British Columbia. Five of the proposals are on the Salish Sea, four are clustered at Kitimat, six near Prince Rupert, and another four are proposed north of Prince Rupert. While the sheer number of proposals is striking (Washington and Oregon combined have seen only four LNG proposals in the last decade), the combined production capacity of the proposals is stunning.
If the nineteen proposals were to go forward, the province would become the world’s largest LNG exporter—by a long shot. According to the International Gas Union’s 2016 World LNG Report, the top LNG-exporting countries are Qatar and Australia. Qatar, which is located on the Persian Gulf near Saudi Arabia, has been the world’s largest LNG exporter for a decade. Producing 78 million metric tons of LNG, Qatar claimed about 32 percent of the global LNG market share in 2015. Australia produced the second largest global market share at 12 percent, exporting 29.4 million metric tons of LNG in 2015.
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The planned production capacity of BC’s LNG proposals dwarfs the world’s top LNG exporters.
In aggregate, the LNG proposals in BC would produce more than 270 million metric tons of LNG per year, three-and-a-half times the volume exported from Qatar and nine times the volume exported by Australia. In fact, the production capacity of the BC proposals rivals that of all the LNG production capacity in the world in 2015, which was 301.5 million metric tons.
Even if only the projects proposed for the Prince Rupert area advanced, BC would still produce 109 million metric tons of LNG—slightly more than world leaders Qatar and Australia combined.
The provincial government hopes to have three plants in operation by 2020—a rather ambitious expectation given that none of the projects has actually begun construction and that experts estimate it takes about five years to build large export facilities like these. Plus, there are any number of unfavorable conditions in the LNG market, making it difficult for the project backers to secure the long-term contracts necessary for their financing. While no one expects all nineteen remaining projects to move forward, it’s worth understanding the province’s ambitions in the context of world LNG exports—they are truly titanic.
Note and methods: Data for LNG production volumes in BC are drawn from multiple sources that are cited extensively in Sightline’s March 2017 report on the industry, Mapping BC’s LNG Proposals. Since one of the projects (Nisga’a LNG) has not applied for an export permit, its export capacity is not known. This analysis includes 18 of the 19 remaining proposals.