Friday, 8 February 2008

Rabaska and Gros Cacouna: Supply Side Problems May Do What Environmentalists Haven't Done So Far

Will there be a liquid natural gas (LNG) port on the St. Lawrence after all?

Assuring supplies of LNG is proving harder than expected, stockholders in Gaz Métropolitain learned Wednesday at their annual general meeting. Sophie Brochu, Gaz Metro president, noted that with the increasing demand for natural gas, competition for supply contracts is becoming hotter. The utility is part of the Rabaska consortium that wants to build an LNG port near Lévis, across from Quebec City. Spokespersons for another LNG project a little down stream at Gros Cacouna said earlier that it also was having to push back its schedule because of delays.

Both projects have been given green lights by the provincial government, but opposition from environmental groups has been strong.

“Today it’s not Cacouna against Rabaska, it’s Quebec against the rest of the planet when it comes to attracting liquid natural gas to its territory,” Brochu said. So far Rabaska has spent more than $45 million other project, with Gaz Métro picking up a third of the tab, according to Le Devoir.

This morning the newspaper also reported that, if one or both of the projects finally does materialize, Quebec may find itself being forced to give preference to US markets in time of international emergency and short LNG supplies. Under NAFTA agreements, a certain proportion of production must be guaranteed for export to the US, Charles-Emmanuel Côté, an international law professor at Laval University, said in a report prepared a year ago for presentation during environmental hearings on the project. That means that Quebec could not increase the share of production for domestic needs even if total production is curtailed.

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