natural gas

Canada Is Replacing Coal With Natural Gas — And That’s A Huge Problem

Enmax Shepard Energy Centre

On Friday, the federal government released its long-awaited draft regulations for the phase-out of coal-fired power in Canada. It was a huge move — the first step to fulfilling a central piece of the government’s pledge to “transition to a low-carbon economy” via the Pan-Canadian Framework.

But another draft regulation was also released on Friday, albeit with a lot less fanfare: performance standards for natural gas electricity generation. Basically, it proposes establishing maximum carbon intensities for different kinds of gas plants. Importantly, it won’t apply to facilities that already exist, converted from burning coal or those operating as “peaker” plants.

Doesn’t sound awful, right? Except one big catch: the regulation effectively gives the go-ahead for provinces transitioning away from coal — Alberta, Saskatchewan and Nova Scotia — to replace a lot of their lost generation capacity with natural gas. And that seriously undermines the country’s ability to decarbonize its electricity system anytime soon.

This Vigilante Scientist Trekked Over 10,000 Kilometres to Reveal B.C.’s Leaking Gas Wells

John Werring in the field

If you’d met John Werring four years ago, he wouldn’t have been able to tell you what an abandoned gas well looked like.

We had no idea whether they were even accessible,” said the registered professional biologist.

That was before the summer of 2014, when he headed up to Fort St. John, B.C., on a reconnaissance mission. At that time, much was known about leaking gas wells in the United States, but there was very little data on Canada.

All Werring had to work with was a map of abandoned wells provided by B.C.’s Oil and Gas Commission. Armed with a gas monitor and a metal detector, he headed into what the gas industry calls the “Montney formation,” one of the largest shale gas resources in the world. Shale gas is primarily accessed via hydraulic fracturing, also known as fracking.

Most of these places, there’s nobody in the field,” Werring said. “You won’t see anybody for miles and miles. Just well after well after well.”

The Weaver-Horgan LNG Kerfuffle Explained

Weaver Horgan LNG DeSmog Canada

B.C. Green Party leader Andrew Weaver becomes downright indignant at suggestions he has retreated even a fraction from the LNG ultimatum he first delivered during a year-end interview with DeSmog Canada.

If B.C. starts to focus again on trying to land an LNG industry given all that has happened, I can tell you I am voting government down,” Weaver said in late December. “I am not standing by and watching us give away the farm yet again to land an industry we’re not competitive in. That’s my line in the sand.”

While Premier John Horgan was on a trade mission in Asia last week, Weaver repeated his ultimatum on Twitter, threatening to topple the government if the NDP continued to pursue “LNG folly,” emphasizing that B.C. cannot meet its climate targets if any major LNG project goes ahead. 

B.C.’s Fugitive Gas Pains: Report Calls for Crackdown on Biggest Polluters

methane emissions oil and gas wells BC

A potent, heat-trapping gas is being released into the atmosphere from B.C.’s oil and gas wells at a much higher rate than shown in industry and government reports and immediate action is needed, a new study by the David Suzuki Foundation confirms.

The findings, released Wednesday, follows on the heels of a previous peer-reviewed study by the Suzuki Foundation and St. Francis Xavier University, which found methane emissions from B.C.’s oil and gas industry are two-and-a-half times higher than reported.

The study revealed that wells in the Montney region, in northeast B.C. near Fort St. John, released more than 11,800 tonnes of methane into the air annually — the equivalent of burning 4.5 million tonnes of coal or putting two million cars on the road.

Q&A with Andrew Weaver: The Future of B.C. Energy Beyond Site C and LNG

BC Green Party Leader Andrew Weaver

B.C. Green Party leader Andrew Weaver was never a big fan of LNG, he says, because he never thought the BC Liberal plan for a multi-billion domestic natural gas export industry was even possible. But that was the past: when it comes to the future of clean energy in British Columbia, what is possible?

In the following interview with journalist Christopher Pollon, the climate scientist turned politician expounds on LNG, Site C, and the imminent arrival of energy alternatives like geothermal, “pumped storage” hydro and more.

Weaver conducted this interview via speakerphone as he drove a broken microwave oven to a Victoria-area depot for recycling. Being Green, it seems, is a full-time gig.

New Government and B.C.’s Natural Gas: What Changes are Coming Down the Pipe?

Natural Gas LNG BC NDP Government

For years, Nexen's Aurora project envisioned transforming Digby island near Prince Rupert into a sprawling $20 billion LNG plant shipping 24 million tonnes of liquified B.C. natural gas to Asia. 

On September 14, Aurora officially backed out, reinforcing the words written in this year’s NDP election platform.  “[Ex-premier Christy Clark] bet everything on natural gas prices and left the rest of B.C.’s economy without support,” it reads. 
“Resource communities and families have paid the price. That’s got to change.”

But change to what?  With the rise of B.C.’s new NDP government, forged with the support of the B.C. Greens under climate scientist Andrew Weaver, there is now an opportunity to reset and find more realistic ways to tap the wealth of natural gas in the Peace region. 

The idea that there is going to be a big mega project like Petronas [Pacific NorthWest LNG] was nothing but a pipe dream,” says Andrew Weaver.  “The real question is, what are we going to do with the resource?”

Pacific NorthWest LNG Hits Road Block as Gas Pipeline Sent Back to National Energy Board by Federal Court

Site of Pacific NorthWest LNG

The Federal Court of Appeal has ruled that the National Energy Board (NEB) made a legal mistake by not considering whether TransCanada’s Prince Rupert Gas Transmission pipeline is under federal jurisdiction, thus requiring NEB approval.

The 900-kilometre natural gas pipeline would move mostly fracked gas from northeastern B.C. to the proposed Pacific NorthWest liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminal near Prince Rupert.

The pipeline was approved by the B.C. government but Smithers, B.C., resident Mike Sawyer requested that the NEB hold a full hearing to determine whether the pipeline is actually in federal jurisdiction.

How the Death of B.C.’s LNG Dream Could Stoke a B.C. Natural Gas Boom

Compressor station

A race to expand B.C. natural gas pipelines and infrastructure is on, signalling two possible outcomes: the death of our homegrown liquefied natural gas (LNG) export dream, and the dawn of the most ironic resource boom in provincial history.

Consider that B.C. natural gas is finally going to be exported overseas by LNG tanker — not from Pacific tidewater, but through Cheniere's new Sabine River LNG export terminal on the Gulf coast near Louisiana. In February 2017, Bloomberg reported Cheniere had entered into a supply deal that would see gas from the Montney shale formation [which straddles B.C. and Alberta] shipped from the facility.

This is a great potential outlet [for Canada],” Madeline Jowdy, Pira Energy Group’s Senior Director of Global Gas and LNG, told Bloomberg of the Cheniere LNG deal. She added that B.C. LNG projects “look like they are going to be a long time coming, if ever, in my opinion.”

First Nations Chief Hopeful For Stop to Site C, More Balanced Approach to Resource Extraction

Chief Roland Willson

Roland Willson is a practical man. As chief of the West Moberly First Nation in northeastern B.C., he’s got to be.

The natural gas industry is the main source of employment,” Willson said over coffee in Victoria this week, before heading into meetings with the B.C. NDP and B.C. Green parties. “It’s a natural resource economy up there.”

Of all the industrial activity happening on his traditional territory — ranging from fracking to forestry to coal mining — one development takes the cake: the Site C dam.

With B.C.’s new NDP-Green alliance, and its promise to send the $9 billion Site C for an independent review by the B.C. Utilities Commission (BCUC), there’s reason for Willson to be hopeful.

We are hopeful that this stupid project is going to get stopped. They’ve done nothing that can’t be undone so far. The trees will grow back. The animals will come back,” Willson. “I'm pretty confident that if it goes to the BCUC, it'll be deemed non-viable.”

Fact Checking Christy Clark’s LNG Claims

Christy Clark LNG

For years, the B.C. government has touted the benefits of developing a liquefied natural gas (LNG) export industry — and while some of those benefits may be legit, one of them almost certainly isn’t.

That’s the claim that exporting natural gas from B.C. will somehow result in emissions reductions in China.

Let’s back up for a second.

Exporting LNG involves first fracking for gas in B.C.’s northeast, a process which causes earthquakes, uses epic amounts of fresh water and leaks the potent greenhouse gas methane into the atmosphere at a rate 2.5 times higher than what the B.C. government has been admitting.

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