The Canadian province of Quebec has enough natural gas to meet European demand, but any plan to ship compressed natural gas (CNG), in the near term, or LNG in the longer term, would require the Quebec government to drop its Bill 21 legislation banning the production of natural gas in the province, according to executives with gas assets in the province.
Utica Resources CEO Mario Levesque, in an August 24 statement, and Questerre Energy CEO Michael Binnion, on August 23, were responding to comments from Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau earlier this week suggesting that the distance from potential east coast LNG facilities to western gas fields made new gas export prospects challenging.
“The business case for Quebec gas is crystal clear,” Levesque said. “Quebec has enormous quantities of natural gas (about 20% of Canada’s total recoverable gas), enough to replace all Russian imports into Germany for 20 to 40 years.”
Most of Quebec’s gas reserves are located in the Utica shale basin, which covers a wide swath of the St Lawrence Lowlands, and are in close proximity to existing deep water ports.
And Questerre Energy’s reserves – a resource estimated at some 6 trillion ft3 – are located within 10 km of a fully permitted, but still unsanctioned, export facility at Becancour, Binnion said.
“As the producer of the natural gas, we can deliver to the export facility directly, eliminating the risks of securing sufficient and reliable supply to meet long-term supply contracts,” he said. “The business case is established for our company which previously made a final investment decision supported by independent reports to proceed with the production of natural gas.”
Both executives pointed out that a Quebec LNG export facility would be much closer to Europe than other terminals in Qatar or even the Cove Point LNG facility in Maryland, on the US east coast.
“The fact is that Quebec gas is the key for Canada to be able to step up to its responsibility of helping Europe in this difficult time,” Levesque said. “Other sources of Canadian gas are far from Atlantic ports and it is a long, complex and expensive process to build the required infrastructure to transport these products to Europe.”
He agreed with Trudeau’s desire, expressed in the midst of German chancellor Olaf Scholz’s visit to Canada, to ramp up natural gas production to help Europe, and offered a three-point plan: rapidly increase Quebec natural gas production, begin exports of CNG to Germany within the next 18 months – each CNG ship would be able to deliver about 20bn ft3/year – and develop the Becancour LNG facility to produce 1-2 trillion ft3/year of LNG, equivalent to 100% of Germany’s imports from Russia and more than a third of all European consumption of Russian gas.
“This would require the lifting of the Quebec government’s new law banning the production of hydrocarbons – a law which makes no sense, particularly after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine,” Levesque said.
Questerre’s Binnion added that Quebec can also help fulfill Trudeau’s goal of exporting hydrogen to European markets through its Clean Gas project, as-yet unsanctioned in the wake of Quebec’s ban on gas production.
“By eliminating the emissions from production and utilising new carbon technology, we can use this Clean Gas to produce zero-emissions hydrogen as well as ammonia for export,” he said. “This is consistent with the new hydrogen pact signed by G7 countries earlier this year, including Canada and Germany.”