THE EQUIVALENT of 50-60 railcars a day of propane could be rolling through Terrace on CN’s main line daily by 2018 bound for Prince Rupert should an export terminal plan announced last week by Calgary-based AltaGas come to pass.
The terminal, to cost between $400 million and $600 million would be built on Ridley Island on land leased from the federal crown corporation Ridley Island Terminals which in turns leases it from the Prince Rupert Port Authority, another federal crown agency.
Up to 1.2 million tonnes a year of propane would be shipped to Asian markets by 2018 should AltaGas receive its required regulatory approvals.
It anticipates making a final investment decision later this year.
The company announced last year it was making progress on the project but its location only came to light last week.
“We had been looking for a good site for years now on the West Coast and this one really seemed to be the best possible one for us as it’s an existing facility. There’s already a world class marine jetty. It’s brownfield, it’s on an existing industrial site, and we know Prince Rupert, our affiliate Pacific Northern Gas serves Prince Rupert,” said AltaGas executive vice-president John Lowe.
“We like the area and it’s a really good fit for us.
AltaGas already has a propane export terminal in Washington State.
The fuel would come from Alberta and B.C. and the AltaGas already owns or is partners in processing facilities.
Whether the railcars would be added to CN’s regular train service or if they would be on dedicated trains has yet to be determined.
AltaGas says it has completed preliminary engineering and the front end engineering and design study has begun.
It is already in talks with regional First Nations and regulatory officials.
Should the terminal be constructed, it would add considerably to the AltaGas footprint in northwestern B.C.
It spent $1 billion to build three run-of-river hydroelectric projects along the Iskut River northeast of B.C., the last of which was completed and in operation as of late last year.
Power generated there is fed into the provincial power grid through BC Hydro’s Northwest Transmission Line.
Its purchase of regional natural gas utility Pacific Northern Gas came in 2011, providing it with an existing natural gas pipeline it hopes to leverage into at least one small liquefied natural gas (LNG) plant near Kitimat called Douglas Channel LNG.
One of its partners in that project, Indemitsu of Japan, is also a partner with AltaGas in a second potential LNG plant in the same area as the Douglas Channel LNG project called Triton.
Formed in 1994, AltaGas now has operating assets worth more than $8 billion.
(With files from The Northern View, Prince Rupert, B.C.)