Nova Scotia

Proposed $10B liquefied natural gas project in Guysborough County pressing forward

This week, Pieridae Energy said it expects to have detailed design and costs for the Goldboro LNG plant by next spring. It awarded a contract to Black Diamond Group of Calgary for construction of a camp that would house up to 5,000 workers who will build the Goldboro LNG plant, if it goes ahead.

Project faces opposition from international group of environmentalists

Pieridae Energy awarded a contract to Black Diamond Group of Calgary for construction of a camp that would house up to 5,000 workers who will build the Goldboro LNG plant. (Black Diamond Group of Calgary)

An estimated $10-billion liquefied natural gas project proposed for Guysborough County is slowly pressing ahead, despite opposition from an international group of environmentalists.

This week, Pieridae Energy said it expects to have detailed design and costs for the Goldboro LNG plant by next spring, and it awarded a contract to Black Diamond Group of Calgary for construction of a camp that would house up to 5,000 workers who will build the Goldboro LNG plant, if it goes ahead.

That deal includes hiring Nova Scotia Mi'kmaw companies to provide catering and cleaning services at the camp.

However, also this week, a gathering of international environmental groups asked the German government to withdraw a loan guarantee backing the plant.

Ken Summers of the Nova Scotia Fracking Resource and Action Coalition said the proposal should be scrapped because LNG plants are notoriously large polluters.

Ken Summers of the Nova Scotia Fracking Resource and Action Coalition said the proposal should be scrapped. (The Canadian Press/Andrew Vaughan)

"If this project were to go ahead, Nova Scotia's greenhouse gas emission targets would be gone out the window," he said.

Nova Scotia's emission targets have been met since they were first set a decade ago, Summers said, but an LNG plant would reverse any gains in greenhouse gas emissions.

"If this project were to come online, we would vastly increase them," he said. 

The province's cap-and-trade system allows large emitters to acquire emission capacity from other companies that are below their targets, but Summers said he doesn't know how an LNG plant would fit into Nova Scotia's plans.

"There are no offsets available for a company the size of Pieridae, as a new emitter," he said. "It's just not possible.

Pieridae Energy has assigned a contract to Black Diamond Group and Nova Scotia Mi'kmaq to build a $720-million work force camp ahead of its planned LNG plant in Guysborough. (Pieridae Energy)

"I don't know what the government has in mind. It's a mystery to those of us who watch it closely."

Summers also said Pieridae would have to use gas acquired through hydraulic fracturing — or fracking — in order to meet its supply needs.

James Millar, director of external relations for Pieridae, said the company has no plans to use fracked gas in the first phase. He said the company has already sourced plenty of conventional gas. In addition, a German loan guarantee for the project includes $3 billion targeted at construction of the plant and $1.5 billion for upstream development, which cannot be used to develop unconventional gas using hydraulic fracturing.  

Millar said Pieridae's largest customer is Uniper, a German company looking for a 20-year supply of natural gas to ease the reliance on supply from Russia.

"The German government has been a great partner since the beginning," he said.

Millar said Pieridae is still negotiating with the province to meet potential emission targets under Nova Scotia's cap-and-trade system.

"It can be something along the lines of a partnership with Nova Scotia Power ... retiring their coal fleet and then there's more room for other companies," he said.

Environment Minister Gordon Wilson said making room for a large emitter such as an LNG plant would make meeting emission reduction targets "challenging," but greenhouse gas emissions overall are coming down.

"It's a moving target, but we'll always look at opportunities to reduce and again hold those targets," he said.

Environment Minister Gordon Wilson said overall, greenhouse gas emissions are coming down in Nova Scotia. (CBC)

Millar also said a recent deal signed with engineering firm Bechtel Corp will provide Pieridae with detailed design and costing next spring that is the last piece of the puzzle needed to make the final investment decision on the project.

He said Pieridae has signed a benefits agreement with Nova Scotia Mi'kmaq that will mean the inclusion of Indigenous workers and companies when it comes to construction of the plant.

Membertou First Nation Chief Terry Paul said the Mi'kmaq welcome the LNG development.

There are always concerns about the potential environmental impacts, he said, but the Assembly of Nova Scotia Mi'kmaw Chiefs has been working on a deal with Pieridae for a long time.

"Discussions on that have been going on for a number of years and a lot of the concerns that the chiefs had, and the communities had, have been mitigated, so we look forward to a good relationship with them," Paul said.

Clarifications

  • This story has been updated to clarify that the company has no plans to use fracked gas in the first phase.
    Oct 06, 2020 3:00 PM AT

About the Author

Tom Ayers

Reporter/Editor

Tom Ayers has been a reporter and editor for more than 30 years. He has spent the last 16 years covering Cape Breton and Nova Scotia stories. You can reach him at tom.ayers@cbc.ca.

Comments

To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.

now