Expansion of FortisBC's Tilbury LNG plant nearing completion

The $400-million expansion at the FortisBC Tilbury plant is in the stretch drive.

"The hydro test is completed on the tank and we're about 85 per cent complete on the project, overall, on construction. Over the next number of months we'll be doing more commissioning of testing of various units before we start testing the full plant," said Doug Stout, vice-president of development.

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In operation since 1971, the current facility can liquefy 5,000 gigajoules (GJ) of gas per day and has a storage capacity of 600,000 GJ. The expanded facility will be able to liquefy an additional 34,000 GJ of natural gas per day and will add 1.1 million GJ of additional storage capacity.

According to Fortis, the additional equipment will help meet the growing LNG demands of the transportation sector, remote communities and industry in B.C.

Stout said the target is to have the expansion operating by summer.

Stout noted Fortis is also looking at opportunities overseas and is focusing on the marine bunkering sector. BC Ferries is already introducing the new Salish class ferries that are capable of running on either natural gas or ultra-low sulphur diesel.

"On a worldwide basis, you're seeing a move towards lowering emissions in the marine sectors and getting more of a push for LNG. In Europe, for example, you're seeing cruise ships that are being built for LNG," Stout explained. "We see this as an opportunity, given the scope and scale of the Port of Vancouver here with the number of ships, an opportunity to develop a marine bunkering hub here."

Stout noted the expansion nearing completion at Tilbury would be able to accommodate the expanded markets, but a new marine jetty would eventually be required to accommodate barges and smallscale vessels, ships that would then go out to provide fuel for larger ships in the harbour. That's where a proposal by Wespac Midstream comes into play.

Hoping to provide LNG to overseas markets, WesPac is proposing to construct and operate an LNG marine jetty adjacent to the existing FortisBC Tilbury plant. Fortis is also eying the facility to supply to the marine sector.

The Wespac proposal still has to go through an environmental assessment to meet both the provincial B.C. Environmental Assessment Act and the federal Canadian Environmental Assessment Act.

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