This is wack. Instead of expanding and connecting pipelines to carry Marcellus/Utica natural gas to New England and from there on to the Canadian Maritimes (New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, and Prince Edward Island), some M-U gas now heads there after traveling all the way to Cheniere Energy’s Sabine Pass LNG export facility on the coast of Louisiana.
Canada’s Atlantic seaboard surfaced as a customer for natural gas exports from the United States this winter to replace depleted wells that entirely ceased production offshore of Nova Scotia at the end of 2018.
Cheniere Energy Inc.’s Sabine Pass liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminal in Louisiana inaugurated the northbound U.S. tanker traffic by sending a cargo of 3.5 Bcf to the Canaport import facility in New Brunswick, according to the National Energy Board (NEB).
The permanent end to 19 years of production by the Sable Offshore Energy Project and the nearby Deep Panuke platform “will significantly change regional markets,” the NEB said. The Canadian Maritimes “will transform from being an exporter of domestic natural gas to being an importer of natural gas from the U.S.”
Canaport, beside Irving Oil’s New Brunswick refinery at Saint John, also received 17.5 Bcf of LNG in six cargos from Trinidad, Norway and the Netherlands during 2018 as Canada’s Atlantic offshore output went through the last stages of reserves depletion.
The LNG tops up northbound U.S. gas flows on Maritimes & Northeast Pipeline (M&NP). The line started up in 1999 for Canadian exports but was built capable of reversing its flow direction, and has since the offshore production halt.*
There have been a number of pipeline projects to flow Marcellus/Utica gas from Pennsylvania into and through New York State, on into New England where some of that gas would hitch a ride on the Maritimes & Northeast Pipeline (M&NP). Yet all of those projects have (so far) have been blocked–either by New York’s Gov. Andrew Cuomo, or by politicians in Massachusetts. The result is that cheap, abundant, clean-burning fracked gas from PA can’t make it into New England and on to eastern Canada.
Instead, Canada is forced to import LNG. Fortunately, one of those sources is now the U.S. At least temporarily.
Yet Boston can’t do the same thing–import American LNG. Why? An old law called the Jones Act stipulates all shipping from/to U.S. ports must be owned and crewed by Americans. There are no American-owned LNG tankers.
Pipelines are the answer of course. But until they can get built, our own home-grown LNG should be allowed to dock and unload at our own ports, just like is now happening in Canadian ports.
However, selling gas to the Canadians won’t last long. TransCanada has plans under government review to ship natgas via pipeline all the way across the continent, from Western Canada, to meet the demand in the Maritimes:
U.S. gas exports are expected to fill all the Atlantic Canadian gas supply gap until Nov. 1, the target date for new service from the Western Canada provinces to start on TransCanada Corp.’s cross-country Mainline and a U.S. link to M&NP. The package, including discount tolls and pipeline capacity additions, currently awaits NEB approval.
A U.S. affiliate of TransCanada, TC PipeLines LP, has plans to raise capacity on its American link along the roundabout route across the continent to New Brunswick and Nova Scotia, the Portland Natural Gas Transmission System.*
Yet we can’t build pipelines to ship our gas a few hundred miles to the same destinations. Wack!
*NGI’s Daily Gas Price Index (Mar 1, 2019) – Canada’s Eastern Seaboard Becomes Sabine Pass LNG Customer
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