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    Canadian midstreamer files for NGL pipeline approval


NorthRiver Midstream's NEBC Connector is critical to continued Montney developments

by: Dale Lunan

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Canadian midstreamer files for NGL pipeline approval

Canadian midstream company NorthRiver Midstream filed an application with the Canada Energy Regulator (CER) November 19 for approvals to build and operate its C$350mn (US$275.5mn) NEBC Connector Pipeline system in the Montney gas play straddling the Alberta-British Columbia border.

The NEBC Connector would consist of dual small-inch pipelines capable of delivering 9,100 m3/day of condensate and 6,500 m3/day of NGLs from northwest of Wonowon, BC (northwest of Fort St John) to the Gordondale region of Alberta. From there, the liquids would be transported on existing Alberta pipelines to fractionation facilities in the Edmonton area.

“The project is critical to the continued development of the Montney play in the Western Canadian Sedimentary Basin (WCSB),” NorthRiver says in its application to the CER. “A customer-driven solution, the primary purpose of the project is to improve market access for existing and anticipated growth volumes by increasing the number of transportation options for [northeast BC] producers.”

NorthRiver Midstream launched an open season in October to solicit binding commitments for transportation service on the NEBC Connector. The open season closes at the end of January 2022.

Currently, only one pipeline system exists to take liquids from the Montney in BC to fractionation facilities in Alberta, and producers without capacity on that system are forced to truck liquids out of the Montney, resulting in added costs and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.

Over the next 20 years, NorthRiver says, Montney gas production is expected to more than double, to more than 300mn m3/day (10.6bn ft3/day) in 2040 from less than 150mn m3/day (5.3bn ft3/day) in 2020. Over the same period, NGL supply mix (propane, butane and condensate) is forecast to increase to nearly 30,000 m3/day from just over 10,000 m3/day.

Existing pipelines can move only 13,800 m3/day of condensate and 11,900 m3/day of NGLs, and Montney liquids supply is expected to exceed pipeline capacity this year, the application says.

The 215-km pipeline would traverse provincial Crown and freehold property in BC and Alberta. However, those lands fall within the traditional territory of the Blueberry River First Nation (BRFN) and other Treaty 8 First Nations. 

In its application, NorthRiver Midstream recognised a recent BC Supreme Court ruling that said BRFN’s rights and land use under Treaty 8 had been infringed by the cumulative impacts of industrial developments within its traditional territories.

“NorthRiver is committed to developing and implementing a plan with the intent of offsetting any residual effect of the project and the project’s contribution to cumulative effects on such rights and land use,” the company says in its CER application. “While NorthRiver understands this approach to be novel for a project of this nature, NorthRiver will engage with indigenous groups to solicit their input into the design and implementation of this plan.”

Pending timely approval of its request for a certificate of public convenience and necessity – which would be issued by the federal cabinet upon a recommendation by the CER – by Q4 2023, NorthRiver hopes to have the NEBC Connector in service by Q4 2024. NorthRiver Midstream is owned by Brookfield Infrastructure Partners, which acquired the assets from Enbridge in 2018.