County approves cutting-edge natural gas plant
Rocky View County council unanimously approved an application to rezone an area of farmland near Cochrane on May 29, to expand the Shell Canada Jumping Pound Gas Plant.
Shell asked that 29.75 acres be rezoned to develop a small-scale liquefied natural gas (LNG) plant at the north end of the property, located roughly five kilometres west of Cochrane.
“This is an incredibly exciting project. It’s definitely leading-edge,” said Councillor Liz Breakey, who made the motion to rezone the land. “Jumping Pound will be a model experiment for the County and that’s a big deal. We’re delighted and pleased that Shell is investing in Rocky View.”
Shell Canada Project Manager Matt Aurini told council the plant will be the first of its kind in Canada, along with larger-scale operations in Edmonton, Red Deer, Calgary and Grande Prairie. The four plants are the first in the company’s Canadian Green Corridor Project, which will introduce a LNG transport corridor in Western Canada.
“We are trying to develop a transportation corridor between Calgary and Edmonton for truck drivers to convert to this cleaner gas,” said Aurini, adding the company hopes to install a plant in Sherwood Park by October. “We hope to expand to Vancouver, as well.”
Aurini described to council the process of harvesting LNG, an odourless, non-corrosive, non-toxic liquid that forms when natural gas is cooled to -160 °C.
Aurini said the process shrinks the gas volume 600 per cent, making it easier to store and transport to markets around the world.
He said LNG can replace propane, diesel and other liquid fuels as a means of powering vehicles, and is more sustainable and cleaner-burning.
Aurini added the fuel also has very little environmental impact, as it requires no remediation of soil, groundwater or surface waters if spilled.
“If there was a spill, it would vapourize right away,” he said. “There is no cleanup.”
Breakey said now is a good time to explore other fuel opportunities, as the price for traditional natural gas resources in Alberta is currently “in the bucket and can’t get much lower.”
“What this is opening up is an incredible sustainable energy source by using technology in a really smart way,” she said.
“It will provide a bigger natural gas market and provide more jobs.”
Aurini projected the Jumping Pound plant will produce up to 1.6 million litres a day.
The project will provide roughly 12 new jobs in addition to the 150 employees currently working at the plant, he added.
The company held an open house on the project in April and received no negative feedback.