AltaGas will soon start building a liquid propane terminal south of Prince Rupert that is expected to supply 20 to 30 Asia-bound ships a year.
Located on brownfield land on Ridley Island, the marine terminal will receive propane by rail and is expected to start shipping by early 2019.
Federal regulators approved the project in December.
AltaGas announced its decision to go ahead with the $450- to $500-million project on Jan. 3, noting that it is consulting First Nations whose traditional territories include the terminal — a list that does not include the Haida Nation.
“Collaborating closely with First Nations and communities to create sustainable social value is of paramount importance to us and we look forward to a long and mutually beneficial relationship with the First nations in the region,” said David Harris, president and CEO of AltaGas, in a press release.
Based in Calgary, AltaGas has an affiliate company that runs a similar propane terminal in Washington State, but the new Ridley Island terminal would be the first on the B.C. coast.
It is relatively close to key Asian markets, with shipping times about 15 days faster than terminals on the U.S. Gulf Coast.
AltaGas expects the Ridley Island terminal to employ about 40 people full-time, its construction will require between 200 and 250 workers.
Sourced mainly from natural gas fields in northeast B.C. and Alberta, the terminal will receive 50 to 60 railcars per day of liquid propane, which will then be loaded onto 230-metre long carrier ships.
Half the product will be supplied by AltaGas itself, the other half by other companies. AltaGas said it has already agreed to sell about half the propane from the new Ridley terminal to Japan’s Astomos Energy Corporation.
In the environmental assessment AltaGas submitted to federal regulators — Transport Canada, the Port of Prince Rupert, and Ridley Terminals Inc. — the company noted that propane is non-toxic, and dissipates in case of a spill.
The company also said the project will emit about 16,800 tonnes of carbon dioxide-equivalent gases a year, which is about 0.03 per cent of the 65 million tonnes emitted in B.C. in 2013.
Most of those emissions will come from gas-fired equipment at the terminal, which requires 15 megawatts of electrical power, and from transportation.
Propane is found in natural gas, and is also a byproduct of oil refining.
In its assessment, AltaGas did not include upstream emissions associated with extracting natural gas from the ground, noting that natural gas producers already account for it and including those figures would result in double-counting.