Canaport LNG conversion project stalled by Tories, Gallant says
Plans to export natural gas piped in from U.S. 'undercut' former government's focus on shale gas
Premier Brian Gallant is suggesting the former Progressive Conservative government was stalling a liquefied natural gas project for Saint John for political reasons.
Gallant says he's hoping to see Canaport LNG turned into a terminal to export natural gas piped in from the United States.
"They probably didn't focus on it because it would have undercut their message that we have to focus on shale gas," Gallant said.
During the election campaign, then-premier David Alward suggested the Canaport conversion could only happen with locally fracked New Brunswick gas.
"The only way that that $3-billion investment will happen is if there's access to fracked natural gas," Alward had said.
But Gallant says during a recent trip to Houston, industry leaders told him gas piped from the U.S. to Saint John would work just as well.
'Say yes' was obviously the pivotal point of their campaign so I believe they didn't pursue it because it would have undercut that message.- Premier Brian Gallant
He says the Tories likely didn't move on that because it would show local fracking wasn't needed.
"'Say yes' was obviously the pivotal point of their campaign so I believe they didn't pursue it because it would have undercut that message," Gallant said.
But current Progressive Conservative energy critic Jake Stewart contends the Alward government did push the project.
If it was stalled, he said, it was because of lack of pipeline capacity in the U.S. and uncertainty caused by Gallant's promise of a moratorium in New Brunswick.
Canaport, a partnership between Repsol and Irving Oil Ltd., currently imports liquefied natural gas from locations such as Qatar and Trinidad by tankers, restores it to its original gaseous form through a process called regasification, and moves it by pipeline to American and Canadian markets.
The terminal, which opened in 2009, currently has a maximum send out capacity of 1.2 billion cubic feet (BCF) or 28 million cubic metres of natural gas per day, according to the company's website.
The gas is used for home heating and cooking, generating electricity and numerous industrial purposes.