'Big win' for northern Ontario says infrastructure minister of LNG plant for Nipigon
Ontario giving $30M to construction, operation of liquefied natural gas plant and eventual gas distribution
The Ontario government announced Friday in Thunder Bay it is investing $27,000,000 in the construction and operation of a liquefied natural gas plant (LNG) near Nipigon.
It is also providing communities along the north shore of Lake Superior, including Schreiber, Terrace Bay, Marathon, Manitouwadge and Wawa, with an additional $3,400,00 through the Northern Ontario Heritage Fund, to help them with the necessary engineering, permits and approvals required to bring that gas to homes and businesses.
"This is truly amazing news for northern Ontario," said Monte McNaughton, Ontario's minister of infrastructure. "This is a big win for the region."
People can 'stay home, work in a great job'
"We're talking about thousands of jobs, and we're talking about 5,000 new households will have access to natural gas and 550 businesses, so it's going to make job creators more competitive and it's going to lower the cost of energy bills for families in northern Ontario," he said.
Estimates suggest the project could create anywhere between 700 and 2,800 jobs in a region hit hard by the downturn in the forestry industry.
"There's just so many opportunities now for people to become trained and educated to be able to stay home and work in a great job," said Matt Dupuis, chief of the Red Rock Indian Band.
'It's really big' says Terrace Bay mayor
"For us, for the past ten years, if you wanted a great job, you technically had to move away."
The promise of employment and an eventual reduction in home heating costs are the main selling points for Jody Davis, the mayor of Terrace Bay, a town of about 1,500 on the north shore of Lake Superior.
"It's really big," he said. "In the wintertime, over the last several years, heating bills in some of our homes have been up to $1,000 per month."
Heating costs are so high because people and businesses had to rely on diesel, fuel oil, propane or electricity to keep their buildings warm when outside temperatures can plummet to -40 Celsius.
This is going to be one of those projects that Ontario can point to and say 'job well done to everyone'.- Monte McNaughton, Ontario minister of infrastructure
LNG is super-cooled natural gas that has been turned into a liquid, which makes it safer to store and transport, explained Joshua Samuel, the president and CEO of the General Partner of Northeast Midstream LP, an Ontario-based partnership focused on expanding natural gas service to communities, which are not served by the traditional pipeline model.
"There's this thing called the Canadian Shield, and if you have the benefit of being along the TransCanada Pipeline (TCP), which is the only source of natural gas in northern Ontario, then that's fine. If you're an industry or a community not living on the pipeline [route] then you don't have access to natural gas and your sources of energy are more expensive," said Samuel.
Gas from the TCP outside Nipigon will be liquefied and trucked to communities in the area, where it will be converted back to gas for local distribution.
The project has been underway for approximately four years, beginning when the Liberals were still in power in Ontario.
McNaughton praised the efforts of Thunder Bay-Superior North MPP Michael Gravelle and the cooperation and collaboration of everyone involved, including the company.
"I think that's one of the greatest stories coming out of today," he said. "There's a real partnership between First Nations communities, municipalities and the province. This is going to be one of those projects that Ontario can point to and say 'job well done to everyone'."
Construction on the LNG plant is expected to begin in spring 2019 with the facility operational by 2020.