Canada's first LNG export facility has finalized contracts for 700,000 tons of its liquefied natural gas.
Golar LNG Ltd. (NASDAQ: GLNG), an LNG tanker company based in Bermuda, and LNG Partners LLC. have signed sales agreements with BC LNG Export Co-operative LLC, owner of the Douglas Channel LNG Project.
The Haisla First Nation and Douglas Channel Gas Services Ltd. are partners in the export facility. Its initial capacity of 700,000 is expected to come online in the start of 2015.
The facility itself will be located on the coast of British Columbia, an ideal location for supplying the enticing Asian markets.
And the Douglas Channel is not alone in its desire to tap Asian markets. Apache Corp. (NYSE: APA) and Chevron Corp. (NYSE: CVX) were also granted an LNG export license from the Canadian government for their Kitimat LNG project.
And majors like Royal Dutch Shell PLC (NYSE: RDS.A), BG Group PLC (LON: BG), Petronas, and Exxon Mobil Corp. (NYSE: XOM) are also supporting facilities in the region.
But the Douglas Channel project will be the first to come online, making BC LNG the first major Canadian exporter of LNG.
Asian markets have been attractive to LNG suppliers since the start of the North American shale boom due to their much higher natural gas retail price. While natural gas was selling for $3.57 per million Btu in the U.S. last week, the Globe and Mail reports, it was a whopping $17.35 in Japan and South Korea.
But lately BC LNG has been faced with a problem.
From the Globe and Mail:
“What we're seeing is that the Asian marketplace is now beginning to embrace the North American gas indices as the pricing forum,” said Tom Tatham, managing director of BC LNG.
The hope of producers interested in the Asian markets was that the gas would sell for the higher price and provide much-needed financial relief, particularly at a time when low North American sale prices were barely cutting it considering the high production cost at the well.
In addition to the change in selling price, the project has also faced a number of other setbacks. Completion was initially scheduled for early 2014. Tatham cited “various reasons” for the year-long delay on the project.
And the price will also go up. Though an exact number hasn't been given, the Calgary Herald says that it could be “millions more than its $400-million initial capital budget.”
This is due in part to addition of a 45-megawatt electrical generation plant, not initially included in the cost.
The gas-powered plant is coming after new rules now require the export facility to be self-sufficient. Electricity is required to chill the natural gas for transportation, and the original plan was to simply tap the grid.
Tatham is currently working on deals with foreign buyers, talking to customers in Japan.
From the Calgary Herald:
“The bidding procedures didn't provide a huge uplift to the producers but it will be overall beneficial to those who participated,” he said.
“Our initial hope was we could do something significantly in excess of index (but) there's been a fundamental shift in the marketplace.”
Despite the lower-than-expected pricing system coming from these Japanese buyers, the sales will be sure to set up a mutually beneficial relationship.
Signing producers onto the project hasn't been as easy, Tatham said. But even with these setbacks, the Douglas Channel LNG Project is pushing ahead, and it's still set to be the first operational LNG export facility in Canada, a victory for BC LNG.
That's all for now,
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