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$5B LNG Export Project Proposed For Atlantic Canada

With an Alberta-grown veteran of international industry at the helm, a newcomer last week launched an Atlantic coast entry into the lineup of Canadian liquefied natural gas (LNG) export projects.

Pieridae Energy Canada, incorporated in the UK and led by Calgary businessman Alfred Sorenson, announced a plan to build a $5 billion scheme to load 700 MMcf/d of LNG into tankers bound for overseas markets from Nova Scotia (NS). The target markets are India and Europe, Sorenson said in unveiling the project with considerable fanfare Wednesday at the proposed site of the LNG plant and dock: Goldboro, NS.

The location is a natural gas shipping junction near Halifax, where Maritimes & Northeast Pipeline (MNP) obtains supplies delivered from the Sable Offshore Energy Project and Encana Corp.'s nearby Deep Panuke production platform, which is nearing completion. While much of that gas supply historically has been piped south to northeastern U.S. markets, much of that demand has been satiated by U.S. shale development.

Titled Goldboro LNG, the export project has set ambitious targets of landing sales contracts in 2013, obtaining regulatory approval in time to begin construction in 2014, and going into operation in 2018. Industry experts note that the success of the project will hinge on the ability to lock in LNG sales contracts.

"We have the experience, expertise, financial resources and access to supply and markets for developing Eastern Canada's first LNG export facility," Sorenson stated. He kept open all options for acquiring gas supplies, ranging from Canadian offshore development to U.S. shale production that could flow on a potential reversal of the MNP export delivery route to the northeastern United States.

Sorenson's professional credits on the trading side of the gas industry include starting the lineup of Canadian LNG export projects now advancing through regulatory approval and overseas marketing processes on the Pacific coast of British Columbia at Kitimat.

He founded Galveston LNG to develop Kitimat LNG, which began as a gas import scheme when markets were tight in 2003 then converted to an export project as shale production proliferated into a glut that cut prices across North America. The Pacific coast brainchild fetched $300 million when it attracted a takeover, then matured into a multibillion-dollar development that has since been taken over by Apache Canada, EOG Resources Canada and Encana.

The Kitimat LNG backers in September announced that they were looking for an investor (see NGI, Sept. 17). They secured a 20-year export terminal license from Canadian regulators last year, and a final investment decision is expected at any time (see NGI, April 30; Oct. 7, 2011). As designed, Kitimat LNG would export liquefied gas in two trains with up to 1.4 Bcf/d at full capacity. The project has been on the drawing board in different partnership configurations for about three years. Right now the project is looking for an investor and customers who will sign oil-indexed contracts. Company executives said the latter has become a problem since Cheniere Energy, the leading U.S. project, signed an export contract from its Sabine Pass, LA terminal based on Henry Hub spot market quotes. (See NGI, Oct. 15).

Prior to launching Galveston LNG, Sorenson was a University of Alberta-trained chartered accountant who rose into senior industrial executive ranks with Direct Energy Marketing, Continental Energy Marketing and Duke Energy Marketing. His roles included president of Duke Energy Europe in 2000-2002, where he ran an aggressive expansion drive that included a takeover of Mobil Europe Natural Gas and setting up a continental trading operation with annual sales exceeding $1 billion. The Nova Scotia announcement described Goldboro LNG as in advanced stages of sales negotiations with international energy utilities.

The Goldboro package includes a tentative supply agreement currently under negotiation with Contact Exploration Inc., a Calgary firm with operations in northern Alberta and British Columbia, and an array of oil and gas assets in New Brunswick, next door to NS and within short potential connection distances to MNP.

"Goldboro LNG is an exciting development for Canada and provides a great opportunity for Eastern Canadian energy," said Contact CEO Steve Harding. "This project will promote resource development in Atlantic Canada, which might otherwise be compromised due to the prolific natural gas development in the northeastern United States."

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