Sleepy Kitimat stirs ahead of the LNG Canada project

A drive around town will quickly show there’s a fair bit of interest stirring in real estate

It is questionable how quickly energy-industry developments in the Kitimat-Terrace area will start to provide major change in the District of Kitimat – but the last few weeks of related announcements and press releases has certainly been encouraging to me.

Since the LNG Canada announcement, there has been a sufficient and satisfying number of intriguing and newsworthy media stories to speed up the realization that this is going to become a pretty busy place as the pace picks up through the winter planning phases and spring and summer construction periods.

My own Google “alert” system, in the past few days alone, has indicated enough of a gradual increase in meaningful and potentially encouraging news stories to lift my hopes that we will actually see some real activity over and above traffic increases in town in the next several months.

Despite the hiccup of possible court-initiated natural gas pipeline delays, there’s been enough high value news – Rio Tinto’s lease and sale of the former West Fraser wharf and development land to LNG Canada for $576-million and the accompanying news that LNG Canada has also agreed to build a replacement wharf for Rio’s export shipments of aluminum from the B.C. Works smelter represents a major step forward.

It also provides a few answers to some of the logistical questions about the future appearance of our now-familiar industrial waterfront picture.

Royal Boskalis Westminster N.V. (Boskalis) – in a contract valued at US$114-million – began dredging the Kitimat waterfront for the development of the LNG export facility earlier this fall.

Boskalis will work over two seasons to remove contaminated and non-contaminated sediments from berths at the Port of Kitimat to allow LNG carriers to access the new facility. Approximately 2 million cubic metres (2.6 million cubic yards) of material is being removed, with the dredged materials being placed at approved on- and offshore disposal sites. Dredging activities will be waterfront viewing through 2020.

The upland project includes modification of an existing wharf and jetty and construction of two new wharves. The new facility is expected to attract between 170 to 350 carrier visits each year. The marine terminal will be able to accommodate two LNG carriers with capacities between 130,000 and 265,000 cubic meters (347,000 cubic yards).

The Hague-based BAM International, together with JJM Construction (Canada) and Manson Construction (USA), has received the full order to build the new Rio Tinto BC Works Terminal A on behalf of LNG Canada. Mobilisation and construction work is being carried out by BAM and its partners for the Rio Tinto Terminal A expansion have started.

BAM expects to complete this project in Autumn 2020. This project is valued at CDN$135 million, with BAM’s share amounting to 50 per cent and JJM and Manson covering the other 50 per cent. BAM initially announced this contract last year, in October, ahead of final confirmation by LNG Canada.

A drive around town will quickly show there’s a fair bit of interest stirring in real estate and while the volume of homes on the market remains relatively low, there are more sold signs on display. There is still a good range of homes and businesses for sale and some of the larger project sites that were of interest in the RTA boom era are reappearing in the listings including the controversial stretch along the golf course road.

Another company wants to build a propane export terminal at Kitimat and is conducting geotechnical work just north of the municipality. Pacific Traverse Energy is looking at a location it hopes will be suitable for a key portion of the project: a railyard along the CN line at which railcars carrying the fuel would be parked and the fuel then transferred to a pipeline for shipment to the proposed terminal site across the water from Kitamaat Village.

The company received a two-year exploratory licence just this fall from the provincial government and its geotechnical work on provincial Crown land is on schedule, says company official Jon Turner.

There is little real doubt that small and medium sized businesses in British Columbia are anxious for the opportunity to position themselves to serve the expected increased demand for goods and services, with most of these opportunities predicted in manufacturing, trade, transportation, finance, real estate, and business and professional services.

We can look forward to more updates over the next lengthy period of time.

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