B.C.’s coal terminal expansion to accommodate propane exports

A growing demand for steelmaking coal in international markets is putting the pressure on Ridley Terminals Inc. to expand.

“Business is booming right now,” said Marc Dulude, Ridley Terminals’s president and chief operating officer.

The terminal saw a 40 per cent increase year over year in shipments of metallurgical coal, used to produce steel, according to a Dec. 2018 performance report. In July, Dulude, announced plans to build a second berth to the existing trestle. He said the investment will cost approximately $280-million.

“It’s really exciting, it’s just a stress to deliver on time but I have a great team and great people so I’m not concerned at all,” he said.

On Feb. 4 and 5, the public comment period opened with two open houses, in Prince Rupert and Port Edward. Just over 40 people were in attendance for the first day. Dulude flew to the North Coast for a quick 48-hour appearance and the Northern View caught up with him for an update.

“This is the next step, as soon as we receive approval of it we will proceed with construction,” Dulude said in Port Edward.

To proceed, the project must go through an Environmental Effects Evaluation, under the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act 2012, under Section 67. Federal authorities reviewing the project include the Prince Rupert Port Authority, Transport Canada, Environment and Climate Change Canada and Fisheries and Oceans Canada. Following the necessary approvals, the corporation anticipates commissioning to begin in 2021.

READ MORE: Propane, coal and port expansion helped economy stabilize: says NDIT report

The expansion project will allow two vessels to be loaded at the same time. According to the project description, rail infrastructure will not change. However, Ridley Terminals is looking to the future, and to accommodate its new tenant, AltaGas’ propane export terminal. The berth will have marine loading arms with infrastructure to facilitate liquefied propane gas (LPG) loading.

AltaGas’ propane export terminal, situated on land leased by Ridley Terminals from the port authority, is anticipated to begin service in the first quarter of 2019. The company expects the facility will offload 50 to 60 rail cars of propane per day to export through Ridley’s existing berth.

“The second dock will help to reduce this pressure because as you know AltaGas is using smaller vessels, so for us it made more sense to develop this smaller dock for Panamax vessels,” Dulude said.

Ridley Terminals has engaged with six Indigenous communities since March 2018, and Dulude said they’ve “received tremendous support” from the First Nations and from the local municipal governments.

Mayor of Port Edward Knut Bjorndal was at the open house on Feb. 5.

“I think it’s good for Prince Rupert and Port Edward,” he said. “It’s not going to harm anything, you know, a little bit of dredging. But we’ve done that all over the coast, including the Fraser River, Vancouver harbour, and this just expands the opportunities to export more products,” he said.

Following consultations, Ridley Terminals has narrowed down its options for on-shore and sea disposal sites. On-shore disposal would be either on the Crown corporation’s leased land, or within the port’s Ridley disposal area. Disposal at sea would either be 1km southwest of the berth, or north of the Prince Rupert harbour.

Dredging is expected to last between 90-120 days, covering approximately 3.6 hectares, at an average depth of 2.3 metres.

“This is a relatively minor project because it’s just a modification,” Dulude said. “This is already a disturbed location because the dock is already built. Very minor regarding the impact on the environment.”

READ MORE: Ridley Terminals moves ahead with expansion project

“We’re still thinking about the future and how we can make this terminal more world class from an environmental standpoint as well as from an operational standpoint.”

If wetlands are affected, Ridley Terminals will develop some type of compensation, as stated on its project description.

Dulude said he wants to have this terminal able to compete with Australia’s, which is one of the leading coal export terminals in the world. Kooragang Coal Terminal in New South Wales, Australia, has a capacity to export 120 million tonnes per year. In 2018, Ridley Terminals shipped 7.56 million tonnes of coal, up 21 per cent from 2017.

For more questions and comments, residents can submit until March 4 through rti_berth@rti.ca

The project isn’t available to view online, however, it will be available at the Prince Rupert Library, the Prince Rupert Chamber of Commerce and the Prince Rupert Port Authority Interpretive Centre.

To report a typo, email: editor@thenorthernview.com.


Shannon Lough | Editor
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