LNG, CO2, methane and emissions

Environmental NGOs continue to oppose LNG using all tactics available.  Their latest issue is suggesting that BC won’t meet its emission targets if it allows LNG plants to proceed.

The plants will be big greenhouse-gas emitters, opponents say, and that’s on top of GHGs emitted by natural-gas wells and processes.

“You can’t have LNG and meet the targets,” insists BC Green Party leader Andrew Weaver. He repeated his threat to bring down the NDP government over the issue. “This is that sword I would die on.”

But Canadian sustainability consultant Rob Seeley counters: “When we export LNG to Asia, of course there will be some local emissions here in British Columbia to produce and transport the LNG. But, of course, the greenhouse challenge is not a local issue, it’s a global issue.

“So one large LNG facility in British Columbia, exporting its LNG for power, if it were displacing coal, it would be reducing the globe’s emissions by as much as 60 million tonnes of CO2. In everyday terms, that’s about eight million cars we’d be taking off the road.”

Merran Smith, executive director of Clean Energy Canada and co-chair of the NDP government’s new Climate Solutions and Clean Growth Advisory Council, says it is possible to allow some LNG development while meeting the targets to reduce emissions.

And consultants told the BC government’s Climate Action Secretariat in 2014: “Our analysis shows that ‘clean’ natural gas from BC could result in significantly reduced global GHG emissions.”

Developer LNG Canada at Kitimat makes these points on LNG, CO2, and emissions:

  • “LNG Canada will have the best CO2 intensity of any large LNG export facility in the world.
  • “Further, policy makers that established the original greenhouse gas framework were not envisioning a province in which no new development would take place. Instead, each new development would need to be judged on its own merits considering the broader benefits to society as well as measures to minimize the CO2 footprint.
  • “In LNG Canada’s case, the broader benefits both to Indigenous, community and the provincial economy outweigh the incremental CO2 emissions.
  • “Further, these CO2 emissions can be reduced or offset working collaboratively with government and other sectors in the economy.
  • “And finally, it is important to note the most important commitment to addressing global climate change is the federal government commitment in Paris COP.  It is under this framework that provinces and industry must work together to ensure we live up to our commitment to keeping the climate to 2 C.”

Indeed, through a combination of energy-efficient natural-gas turbines and renewable electricity from BC Hydro, LNG Canada’s project will emit less than half the greenhouse gas emissions of the average LNG facility currently in operation.

“The LNG from our project alone could reduce global CO2 emissions by 60 to 90 million tonnes per year, which is more than the total annual emissions of British Columbia and roughly 10 percent of Canada’s total annual emissions.”

(More on this from LNG Canada.)

As for “fugitive emissions” of methane from BC’s natural-gas wells, the industry is working hard to address and reduce overall emissions in natural gas production. Let’s face it, any leakage of gas means the company loses some valuable product, and the profit from it.

Looking for evidence of methane emissions in BC’s natural-gas extraction industry, researchers for the Suzuki Foundation were surprised at how tight the new wave of field equipment really is, reports the Resource Works Society.

Indeed, the society adds: “Thanks to the Suzuki Foundation’s work, we have fresh verification that companies are working hard to meet federal and provincial environmental standards, and succeeding.”

And in a separate story, Resource Works busts some myths about fugitive emissions.

Meanwhile, the industry-supported BC Oil and Gas Research and Innovation Society is funding two UBC research projects: One on the potential for drones to detect and monitor fugitive gas; and one on statistical analysis on occurrence and potential causes of gas migration from wells.

All of which points to the industry’s understanding that it has a responsibility to (as National Chief Perry Bellegarde puts it) hit the “sweet spot” of balance between the economy and the environment.