Natural Gas in the Northern Rockies

The Northern Rockies is rich in proven natural gas reserves with one of the most significant  resources on the continent' Reserves are located in the Horn River, Liard and Cordova Basins in the northeast corner of BC. These basins have geological formations rich in unconventional shale gas.

Between 2009 and 2014, the Northern Rockies experienced tremendous growth in its oil and gas sector. As of year-end 2012, shale gas land tenure sales remained brisk in BC with the Government of BC taking in over $3.6 billion in land sales and royalties from the Horn River and Liard Basins.

In 2014, the sector experienced a downturn in oil and gas prices, and as a result, activity decreased significantly in the Northern Rockies. Almost all major projects were curtailed and many companies decommissioned their facilities and infrastructure. The resource remains well developed however and ready to answer the call when the need arises.

LNG Canada

In October 2018, LNG Canada announced its commitment to building a $40 billion Liquified Natural Gas (LNG) export terminal. Included in the project is the Coastal Gas Link pipeline that will transport the gas required by the facility from the Dawson Creek region in northeast BC to the LNG export terminal in Kitimat on BC's north coast. The facility will liquify between 1.5 and 3.1 Bcf/d of gas, largely sourced from the area surrounding Dawson Creek.

It is anticipated that this project will help stabilize commodity prices and foster further investment across northeast BC, and specifically, the Northern Rockies. Likewise, increased economic activity in the NRRM is anticipated since demand for LNG is predicted to outpace supply within a decade.

Distributed LNG

Currently, the Northern Rockies is positioning itself as the preferred energy source for northern Canada by developing  distributed LNG production and related infrastructure. Given that Fort Nelson is at the northern terminus of the natural gas pipeline and rail networks in BC, supplies headed north must be transported by road in liquified form.  

A considerable portion of northern Canada is currently reliant on diesel for the generation of electricity. Given the advantages of LNG diesel, including the reduced carbon emissions it offers, it is increasingly being used in large scale projects to generate electricity, heat buildings, power drilling rigs and mining related processing. Fort Nelson's relative proximity to these markets affords significant logistical and cost advantages as a point of supply.  Early in 2021 Cryopeak LNG Solutions seized this opportunity and commissioned a plant in Fort Nelson to take advantage of the local resource.

Despite the outflow of private investment following the downturn in the oil and gas sector, there is keen investor interest in the Northern Rockies. Several other companies are exploring the location of distributed LNG operations to be located near Fort Nelson. Demand is predicted to continue to grow as governments move to meet carbon reduction targets and new industrial projects to the north are realized.

Decommissioning of Wells and Pipelines

In this period of reduced sectoral activity, the NRRM is actively engaging stakeholders to ensure inactive wells and pipelines are properly decommissioned  and "mothballed." This has created opportunities for  local companies experienced in the industry and specialists from outside the region, and is providing employment and economic activity. This work is ongoing.