FORT NELSON, B.C. — The mayor of the Northern Rockies Regional Municipality says that Enbridge’s plans to scale back production trains at the Fort Nelson Gas Plant will have a negative affect on his community.
Mayor Bill Streeper says that the gas plant is a huge anchor in the town, and that job losses there will make an already bad situation worse. “We’re having problems with employment, of course. We have no oil patch exploration, we have no logging, we have no sawmills in operation,” said Streeper. Fort Nelson Chamber of Commerce Kim Eglinski says that the gas plant is currently the largest employer in the town of roughly 4,000.
He explained that the reasons for the scale back stem from a variety of causes. “If you don’t have the people to buy the gas, you can’t ask them to work and not be able to get rid of their product. Right now we have so much gas that’s what we call ‘behind pipe’ with nowhere to go. You’ve got to take into consideration that we’re not shipping gas to Eastern Canada anymore, that’s coming out of the Marcellus shale in New York because it’s a cheaper pipeline cost.”
Streeper says that the only market suitable for the amount of natural gas that is awaiting shipment in the area is the LNG market. “The North American market is completely saturated with natural gas, the United States is completely self-sufficient in petroleum products. Other than a logistic problem, they use their own gas,” said Streeper, saying that only Washington and Oregon import natural gas from B.C. due to no pipelines passing through the Rockies.
Eglinski says that with the job losses causing a trickle-down effect in the local economy, there aren’t many options available. “Supporting one another, it’s all we can do right now,” she said. “There’s not much else we can do.”