By Gagandeep Ghuman
Published: Sept. 6, 2014
The BC LNG industry will add to the GHG emissions, spur fracking, and worsen global climate change, but even the economic arguments for it isn’t sound, said Sean Lumb, a member of My Sea to Sky.
In an interview with the Reporter, Sean Lumb, a Phd in Chemistry and director of new ventures at UBC, said LNG price fluctuate and Canada faces tough competition from Australia and the Unites States.
Even though big Asian buyers such as Japan and South Korea make their purchases through longer contracts at fixed price (80 per cent of it in some cases), the remaining is bought at the spot price.
The spot price fluctuates dramatically as new suppliers compete in an open market place to sell LNG to countries where demand isn’t always as high. Lumb said the vagaries of the market reduced prices from $17 to $18 per million cubic feet to $10 this year.
“Once you get to the 10 dollars mark, that is the cost of the production,” he said.
With tax incentives to industry and infrastructure additions in BC, the public has a part in subsidizing the LNG industry but may not see the promised prosperity fund. Woodfibre LNG will operate on hydro, but that doesn’t mean the environment will be left unscathed, he added. Leaky infrastructure along the way and at the site will add to emissions.
“You get emissions when they are filling in, you get emissions out of pipes, compressor systems, out of the wells,” he said.
In addition, there are non-liqufiable gases—oxides of sulphur and nitrogen— that have to be scrubbed out and add to emissions.
Methane, he added, is also a potent climate forcer, which means it traps heat better than Co2 by a much bigger factor.
Lumb said it also remains to be seen what happens in a scenario if there is a LNG spill.
A massive spill from the plant or a tanker will only occur with collateral damage caused by an explosion, container rupture, but
it could ignite the methane and cause a massive spreading flame, he said.
“Methane is flammable when it hits 5-15 per cent concentration in the air,” he said.
“Any kind of spark or ignition source will set it off and once it’s going there’s no stopping it. A large spill would be catastrophic.”
Methane gas has 600 times the volume of LNG, so an amount as small as one cubic meter can vaporize to produce 600,000 liters of flammable gas at regular atmospheric pressure,” he said.