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    Quebec LNG Project Commits to Carbon Neutrality


Carbon capture, offset purchases seen as most likely route

by: Dale Lunan

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Quebec LNG Project Commits to Carbon Neutrality

GNL Quebec committed February 5 to making its proposed Energie Saguenay LNG project in the Canadian province of Quebec carbon neutral by offsetting all of the liquefaction terminal’s direct greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.

The 11mn mt/yr terminal will draw its compression and liquefaction power from the Hydro Quebec provincial grid, which is largely based on hydroelectricity. Still, annual emissions are expected to total 421,000 metric tons (mt) of CO2 equivalent – 420,000 mt of CO2 and 1,000 mt of fugitive methane emissions.

In 2018, GNL Quebec commissioned the chair in eco-consulting at the University of Quebec at Chicoutimi (UQAC) to identify credible, effective and measurable actions to offset the terminal’s emissions.

Its report, submitted in September 2019, identified four priority sectors to achieve carbon neutrality: reforestation in areas being actively harvested; capture, purification and use of CO2 emissions; purchase of renewable natural gas (RNG) produced from forest residues; and purchasing offset credits on regulated or voluntary markets.

Reforestation was judged to be the least effective option, given the time required for trees to store CO2, while carbon capture and use offers the greatest potential, the study found. It might even be enough on its own for Energie Saguenay achieve carbon neutrality by 2030.

“But it would require the development of an innovative eco-industrial park to recover both the CO2 and the industrial heat generated by the liquefaction terminal,” an executive summary of the UQAC report says. “This would require modifying the liquefaction facility and finding partners to utilise these resources using an eco-industrial approach.”

Purchasing RNG to supplement Energie Saguenay’s feed gas supply also offers good potential, the report says, but the “technological readiness” of pyrolysis, the distances to transport the residues close to the Gazoduc pipeline (which will deliver gas to the terminal) where the RNG would be produced, and potential competition for other uses of the residues “make this potential very uncertain.” It’s unlikely RNG could contribute to carbon neutrality before 2030, the UQAC study concludes.

Finally, the study found that the purchase of offset credits “will be necessary” for the terminal to achieve carbon neutrality.

“There are enough credible serialized credits currently available on voluntary markets to ensure carbon neutrality at least for the period 2025-2030, and it is likely that, as other measures are deployed, it will be possible to supplement the balance of Energie Saguenay’s emissions through annual offset credit purchases for the duration of its operations,” the report says.

Both the terminal project and the proposed 780-km Gazoduq pipeline are the subject of ongoing federal and provincial environmental reviews. The provincial review resumed in September 2020 after being halted due to Covid-19 protocols; a recommendation from the federal Impact Assessment Agency of Canada is expected by September or October, with a cabinet decision to approve unlikely before year-end.