A trip by some in Kitimat and Kitamaat Village to the Middle East provided a first-hand look at an operating liquefied natural gas (LNG) plant.
The trip was sponsored and arranged by LNG Canada, who are proposing to build a plant on the former Methanex site.
Representatives from Hartley Bay were also on the trip.
The trip took people to Oman, where Oman LNG has been operating since 1994.
LNG Canada representatives said that the facility there is a fairly close approximation to how LNG Canada could look.
The facility shares other similarities beyond the technical aspects, including its operation on salt water, and its proximity to the nearby community, Sur.
The trip has been well received from those we have reached since their return.
Taylor Cross is the Deputy Chief Councillor for the Haisla Nation and spoke highly of what he learned on the visit.
“I was pretty impressed with the size. It’s a three-train LNG, and it takes up quite a bit of space.”
He said you could compare the size to roughly the size of the Rio Tinto Alcan smelter.
The proposed LNG Canada plant in Kitimat would, at a full-build out, be four trains.
(A ‘train’ is LNG speak for a unit that processes natural gas to a liquid.)
Cross said he had half-jokingly asked to see a running LNG plant to LNG Canada and he’s not sure if the plan was already in the works but the company responded quickly.
“I said if you’re going to get 100 per cent support from us we’ve got to see a running facility,” he said.
“What I really wanted to go there for was to look at what was coming out of those stacks. The noise.
“From what I saw, there was nothing coming out of their stacks other than their flare stack. It’s not like what we’re used to here in Kitimat, smoke and steam coming out of there.”
There was a steady hum of noise as well, he said.
“The whole place was really clean.”
Cross also said that, being a safety advisor for RTA, he was impressed with Oman LNG’s safety record, with millions of working hours without a loss-time accident.
From the District of Kitimat, Fire Chief Trent Bossence and the District’s Economic Development Officer Rose Klukas made the trip as well.
Klukas said she learned a lot about the company’s history and its relationship with its community.
“It definitely caused a big boom in their community. I think their population grew quite substantially.”
Oman LNG shares the industrial landscape only with a fertilizer plant.
“I was able to ask what were the economic spin offs of this project, and how did local business manage with this large project coming down in to this small town,” she said. “There were growing pains, like here as well.”
She said the company supports a number of social programs in the community, including a local youth centre and even swimming training.
As for lessons to apply to Kitimat, she said Kitimat has a good foundation but she definitely could see room for improvement locally to deal with LNG development.
“I think we are fortunate here in Kitimat because we’ve always had a strong industrial tax base, so in that respect we have a lot of amenities and our infrastructure is probably in a better starting point than maybe that small town’s was,” she said.
“It definitely gave us an idea of areas where we could ask for support, for sure.”
Ultimately though the company seems to have found a good fit in Oman, she said.
Despite early challenges during their start up the overall experience of adding LNG to their community has been positive, she said.