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Woodfibre LNG building world's first net-zero export facility

Woodfibre will utilize technology upgrades as well as carbon credits

IMAGE: The site of the future Woodfibre LNG export facility
The future site of the Woodfibre LNG export facility in Squamish, B.C. (Courtesy Woodfibre LNG)

Woodfibre LNG plans for its liquified natural gas (LNG) export facility, currently under construction in Squamish, B.C., to be the first in the world to achieve net-zero emissions.

The LNG exporter aims to achieve its net-zero ambitions through technology and engineering changes such as the use of electric drive compressors, boil-off gas reliquefaction, instrumentation enhancements, using air instead of seawater for cooling, as well as leak detection and repair surveys, according to its recently published roadmap.

It has also secured carbon-credit agreements.

This objective includes net-zero commitments in both construction and operations, which are expected to begin in 2027. The facility is to produce 2.1 million tonnes of LNG annually.

“None of the existing LNG facilities in the world are currently net-zero,” a Woodfibre LNG spokesperson told SustainableBiz via email. “Further, no other LNG projects currently in construction or scheduled to begin construction in the next few years have announced a pathway to net-zero.”

“We believed it was important to make the public commitment to be net-zero and develop a third-party validated plan to deliver on that commitment, as construction on our facility is scheduled to begin in September this year."

The Woodfibre LNG project is owned and operated by Vancouver-based Woodfibre LNG Limited, which is held 70 per cent by Pacific Energy Canada and 30 per cent by Enbridge Inc.

The Woodfibre LNG facility emissions

The project's net-zero roadmap follows the B.C. government's announcement requiring proposed LNG facilities in, or entering, the environmental assessment process to develop and submit a credible plan to be net-zero by 2030.

Once in operation, the facility is projected to produce 83,374 tonnes of carbon dioxide annually, and have a carbon intensity of 0.04 tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent (tCO2e) for every tonne of LNG. This is below the provincial benchmark of 0.16 tCO2e per tonne of LNG.

Over half of the annual carbon dioxide (45,821 tonnes) is expected to come from stationary combustion and flaring. At the same time, the roadmap states that by using the electric drive, Woodfibre LNG will avoid 230,470 tCO2e per year.

The facility will also produce low-purity nitrogen onsite, with zero emissions, to eliminate emissions from gas truck deliveries, which the report states will reduce Scope 3 emissions by 1,028 tCO2e per year.

“We have committed to further emission reduction technologies, such as quarterly leak detection and repair surveys to reduce fugitive emissions, that will reduce the overall profile to 75,532 tCO2e per year,” the spokesperson said.

“We have identified and will continue to explore additional near-term, medium-term and longer-term emission reduction technologies as they become more technically and commercially feasible over time."

Those include:

  • carbon capture, utilization and storage;
  • compressor improvements;
  • an electrified fleet; and
  • hydrogen-powered equipment.

For emissions during construction, Woodfibre LNG has secured carbon credits from Whistler, B.C.-based carbon offset project Cheakamus Community Forest, where the Squamish Nation, Lil'Wat Nation and Resort Municipality of Whistler are partners. It has also procured credits from forest preservation project BigCoast Forest Climate Initiative for emissions during operations. 

“Our strategy lays out technically and commercially feasible emissions reduction commitments and carbon offsets for hard-to-abate emissions to achieve net-zero," the spokesperson said.

Woodfibre LNG’s Indigenous involvement

The company states it is the first industrial project in Canada to recognize a non-treaty Indigenous government — Sḵwx̱wú7mesh Úxwumixw (Squamish Nation) — as a full environmental regulator.

It also credits its net-zero plan in part to conversations with the Squamish Nation, which resulted in the Nation's own environmental assessment agreement for the project in 2015. Among these was the commitment for electric compressors using renewable hydroelectricity from BC Hydro, resulting in what Woodfibre states is 14 times fewer emissions than a conventional LNG facility.

The company chose Calgary-based energy consultancy Brightspot Climate to validate its strategy.

“We chose Brightspot Climate because they are a credible, independent, Canadian climate consulting firm that specializes in GHG (greenhouse gas) verification work, having completed over 200 verifications of industrial facility GHG emissions reports,” the spokesperson said.

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