Thursday, March 28, 2024

AltaGas looks to start up of REEF terminal by late 2026, early 2027 should FID move forward

Monday night was Prince Rupert City Council's opportunity for an update on the AltaGas/VOPAK plans for a new shipment terminal on Ridley Island, with representatives from the partnership  on hand to provide a presentation towards the project.

The overview was one similar that which Port Edward Council recently received and was one part history lesson tracking the arrival of AltaGas in the community and then turning to focus on the large scale development that could move forward should the joint venture partners decide on a positive Financial Investment Decision.

From the History tutorial, Council heard from Jennifer Ozmar who spoke  of the success of the Liquid Propane Export terminal, the volume of exports to Asian customers. When it came  to terminal operations, the presentation highlighted how since the AltaGas terminal opened in 2019 the workforce had grown to 42 employee, 88 percent of them local residents.

Other elements explored the community partnerships and engagement that AltaGas has had with the communities of the region.

Among those highlighted was the Indigenous training program which hired 100 percent of the graduates once the facility had been commissioned.

The presentation also featured a look at the AltaGas Rail Safety training program.

Moving towards their future plans, Mr. Campbell took Council through the development plan that has taken place, as well as to what to expect should there be a positive FID announcement.

The AltaGas rep observed that he has been involved in the joint venture project for three years now,  with anticipation of the FID decision to come in the second quarter of this year.

He highlighted that all the permitting was in place and provided a tutorial on how the terminal facility and the wharf would evolve over the next few years, noting that if all moves on schedule the facility would be in service in 2026-27.

Other key themes was the extensive engagement with local First Nations and plans towards further training for the positions at the terminal.

At this point development of the footprint for the facility is underway with work on drainage and land clearing  the immediate focus.

Towards questions from Council Safety and the impact of a large workforce arriving in the community made for much of the Council focus.

Councillor Randhawa's contribution to the conversation was to seek out a timeline for development and to ask towards the construction process, what kind of workforce would be assembled.

The timeline element was noted as still something in motion towards determining, with a target of late 2026, early 2027 for in service operations. As for the construction it would be a phased approach, with some of the large elements to be constructed offsite from the community and brought to the site.  

For assembly over time it would feature a load level execution with lower levels of workers on site, with AltaGas looking to work with the local community. At peak it's anticipated that 250 people could be working the site, with 50 to 60 percent of them local.

"What we're looking at is a phased approach, with the initial infrastructure. So we've got a significant spend up front to get this infrastructure in place for all of the faculty to build out over time ...

We don't want to put too many people into a work force into a small footprint and you're working one on top of the  other. 

 So we're trying to load level our execution and meet a reasonable timeline with lower people on site, I always find that you get better productivity with lower numbers of workers  -- Sean Campbell from AltaGas/VOPAK

Councillor Barry Cunningham explored themes of Emergency services, asking about the nature of their in house emergency response.

He then observed of both the Prince Rupert and Port Edward Fire Departments and how they don't have the specialized training and the burden it would put on the local taxpayers and stretch their resources even more.

"We have a full time Fire Department, Port Edward has a volunteer one, they are both excellent But they don't have hazmat training, they don't have the specialized training that goes with the facility you're building. 

You know like you're a border line refinery here, so that kind of training and the extra personnel is going to put a bit of a burden on our taxpayers toward a quality and level of our fire fighting department, which is already stretched because of the industrialization around here ...

So are you going to be in any way upping the ante as far as contributing to our fire department and the extra firefighters we're going to have to hire and the extra specialized training "

Mr. Cunningham also spoke to the volume of workers that would be working on the project  and asked if they planned  for a work camp for their workers and where it was going to be, noting of the housing situation in Prince Rupert.

Towards the workforce question, the AltaGas reps noted of the existing  camp at Watson Island which they would use, as well as plans to expand that camp footprint. They also observed of the medical services that they plant provide for those camp residents to reduce any impact on local hospital services in Prince Rupert.

"There is a current camp sitting at Port Ed right now,  it's a Watson Island camp it's operated by some of our Indigenous parters. It's 150 person camp, we have been working heavily with that camp provider and we plan to house most of our out of town workers at that location. 

We also have provisions to build that 150 person camp  into an additional 125 over and above that.  So we've been mindful of exactly those pressure points that you have in the community and we don't want to add to those strains"   -- Sean Campbell from AltaGas/VOPAK

You can review the full presentation from the City's Video archive, the AltaGas presentation was the first item on the Committee of the Whole agenda for the night.

Our Council Timeline feature provides a wider overview of the Monday night presentation.

More background on the REEF initiative is available from  the AltaGas/VOPAK

A wider overview of the Monday Council session can be explored through our Council session archive.

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