After six years of preparations and promises, performance deadlines are looming for a homegrown proposal to build a C$10.8 billion ($8.6 billion) liquefied natural gas (LNG) export terminal on Canada’s east coast.
Mandatory spring disclosures by Goldboro LNG sponsor Pieridae Energy Ltd. show that the project risks losing its Nova Scotia environmental approval and site near the provincial capital in Halifax unless construction starts within the next nine months.
In investor presentations and other public appearances, company representatives repeatedly predict a “soft” final investment decision (FID) will be made this year, followed by a “hard” commitment before the end of March 2019.
Strides made by the project include cross-border gas supply permits from Canada’s National Energy Board and the U.S. Department of Energy, agreements with construction unions, an LNG supply deal with German trader Uniper Global Commodities and a tentative sale to a second unidentified European customer.
But formal written corporate disclosures add that the project still has to take big steps, with official deadlines for proceeding into construction requiring brisk progress.
The Nova Scotia government’s Goldboro LNG environmental approval, granted in 2014 and already extended for three years beyond the original expiry date in 2016, runs out as of March 21, 2019, according to documents.
Access to the proposed terminal site, on 265.5 vacant acres in a municipal government-owned industrial park, potentially expires three months earlier. The arrangement enables the municipality to take the property back and refund the C$3.2 million ($2.5 million) purchase price if the construction FID is not made by Dec. 31, Pieridae said.
The company added that gas sources have yet to be nailed down for planned exports of up to 1.4 Bcf/d via two LNG terminal production trains to be built in stages. Supply arrangements are described as essential for raising construction finance.
In corporate disclosures, the Pieridae Group of four subsidiaries for Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Quebec and the United States, said it had not yet “entered into a natural gas supply agreement for the Goldboro LNG facility.”
Project investor presentations predicted 73% of the gas would be obtained from Western Canada, where production originates in Alberta, British Columbia and Saskatchewan. The rest of the supplies would originate in the northeastern United States and Eastern Canada.
To seal a western gas deal, Goldboro LNG vowed to secure an east coast copy of a 46% toll discount that TransCanada Corp. granted last fall on its cross-country Mainline for 1.4 Bcf/d flowing to the Dawn eastern storage and trading hub in Ontario.
The plan calls for Western Canadian gas to travel a roundabout route to the Nova Scotia coast via reversed, northbound flow on Maritimes & Northeast Pipeline (M&NE), after traversing U.S. conduits linked to eastern TransCanada export routes.
Gas pricing on offer to prospective western suppliers is a moving target.
Goldboro LNG project director Mark Brown has disclosed that pricing in the overseas sales contracts is an index, tracking the main European gas benchmark known as the National Balancing Point, or NBP, a British concept akin to the Henry Hub and the AECO-NIT in Canada’s top gas-producer jurisdiction, Alberta.
The NBP is the theoretical pricing and delivery point for commodity trading on the ICE Futures Europe exchange. Brown described the NBP as based largely on the overseas Brent price for oil, which is lately higher than the West Texas Intermediate benchmark in North America.
Goldboro LNG’s proposed economic structure includes a European sweetener. The project has obtained a preliminary opinion from two international accounting firms that it would qualify for a US$3 billion loan guarantee from a German energy supply incentive program, provided that agreed gas volumes go to Germany.
Prospects that the project will hit its targets and go ahead raise high hopes in Nova Scotia, where the planned four-year terminal construction program is forecast to employ nearly one-third of the province’s unionized labor force by creating 3,500 jobs.