By Gagandeep Ghuman
Published: Sept 13, 2014
FortisBC plans to construct a new natural gas pipeline that will course its way from Coquitlam through Squamish to the LNG site. The construction will start in 2016 and the project is expected to $350 million. .
From Coquitlam, the new pipeline will snake its way from Coquitlam to Squamish, passing along Robin Drive to a proposed new compressor station in the business park, and then through the estuary to the Woodfibre LNG site.
In an interview with the Reporter, FortisBC’s Trevor Bodreau and Carol Greaves said the new pipeline will stay in the existing right of way as much as possible.
Besides a few exceptions, it will follow the 600-kms transmission pipeline that was put in place in the 90s to serve Squamish, Vancouver Island, Sunshine Coast, and Powell River.
Greaves said the old pipeline doesn’t have the capacity to serve Woodfibre LNG as the existing pipeline delivers only 150 million cubic feet a day. The new pipe is expected to deliver 228 million cubic feet of gas every day to Woodfibre LNG.
To push the gas to its destination, Fortis plans to add a compressor station in Squamish and upgrade another in Coquitlam. Compressor stations increase the pressure and flow of the natural gas; the main component is a centrifugal type compressor that is motor driven.
A new compressor station can take up to five acres of land, although a Squamish location for the compressor station hasn’t been decided yet. Electrically driven, the Squamish compressor station design would involve installing 9,700 horsepower, while the one in Coquitlam will add 30,000 horsepower to pump gas.
The plans aren’t final yet, but Fortis plans to put a compressor station on an empty piece of land in the business park on the intersection of Industrial and Queens Way. Greaves said Fortis (a private distribution company) looked at options in the Valleycliffe area but couldn’t find a suitable location for the compressor station.
Estuary is one area where Fortis deviates from its existing right of way because of First Nation considerations. One kilometre of new pipe will be installed in the estuary through horizontal directional drilling, drilling 50 to 70 metres under the surface.
“We have an environment firm doing studies on aquatics, plants and wildlife, bird nesting and frog habitat and archaeological studies,” she said.
FortisBC also plans to use horizontal directional drilling technology (HDD) to install a segment of the pipeline through the Estuary. HDD installs by drilling underneath the earth, which would minimize any impacts to the surface.
The existing pipeline is 10 inches, but the new pipe would be 24 inches thick to allow for more gas to flow. Fortis spokesperson Trevor Bodreau said the company had operated the pipeline without incident for the last 24 years in the region.
“We have a commitment to safety,” he said.
The company has a central control and monitoring station in Surrey from which the gas supply can be switched off at the push of a button. The local compressor station will also be manned 24/7 a day, he said. Bodreau said Fortis regularly inspects its pipeline sending an automated ping that ‘read’ the inside of the pipe, and detects leaks and ruptures. The pipes are seismically stable and are regularly upgraded as needed.
Wall diameters are also thicker when the pipe is in densely populated areas.
Fortis is also establishing a baseline for noise level for the new compressor facility, but the ambient noise is 40 decibels, Greaves said. Using electric power to run the compressor station and an adequate tree buffer will help with noise, she added.
Greaves said there will be a combined tax benefit to SLRD and Squamish of $1.3 million. Fortis estimates the project will generate 500 to 650 person years of work during construction and eight new full-time jobs. Greaves also said there is a potential for the gas rates to drop as more gas flows in the system with big industrial user like Woodfibre LNG.
“Big industrial user will help stabilize or even lower the rates,” she said.
The proposed project is preparing for an environmental assessment process.