Québecian natural gas distribution company Gaz Métro has provided an update on its liquefied natural gas (LNG) development plan. The goal of this plan is to supply LNG to the heavy transport industry in Quebec and eastern Canada, via its indirect subsidiary Gaz Métro Transport Solutions, LP (GMTS), and subsequently to assess the possibility of hauling LNG by truck to service more remote areas from Gaz Métro’s natural gas pipeline network. Part of that process is planning and implementation of initiatives designed to develop LNG-powered fleets.
Accordingly, GMTS has been working with a number of partners and road transportation companies since 2010 to ensure that local carriers can enjoy the significant economic and environmental advantages of LNG, compared with diesel fuel. GMTS is committed to developing a market in Quebec for both compressed (CNG) and liquefied natural gas as a source of fuel.
In addition, GMTS owns and operates two private fuelling stations in Quebec, on Robert Transport sites: one on the South Shore of Montreal and the other (a mobile unit) in the Quebec City area. It also owns and operates a third fuelling station in the Mississauga area.
Achievements and current projects
In the heavy transportation sector, as a result of infrastructure investments made by GMTS (fuelling stations):
- Transport Robert 1973 Ltd. (Robert Transport) plans to have 130 LNG-powered trucks (out of a total 180 trucks ordered) on the road by early summer 2013.
- Transport YN.-Gonthier Inc. introduced its first two LNG trucks in October 2012.
- A first for eastern Canada: Camions Excellence Peterbilt Inc. now has one LNG-fuelled truck available for short-term rentals.
In the marine transportation sector, the Société des traversiers du Québec (STQ) has announced the purchase of three LNG-powered ferries, which will be able to procure natural gas through GMTS:
- One ferry for the Matane-Baie-Comeau-Godbout crossing
- Two ferries for the Tadoussac-Baie-Sainte-Catherine crossing.
In the rail transportation sector, GMTS is supplying LNG as part of a project to develop an LNG-powered locomotive, in collaboration with Westport Innovations, CN and Electro-Motive Diesel, Inc. (EMD).
Projects in development
GMTS is in talks with several carriers interested in ordering LNG trucks in the coming months.
A series of public fuelling stations will be set up along highways 20 and 401 to strengthen and complement the existing private network. This public network may also eventually merge with the North American network, thereby enabling carriers to provide continent-wide coverage using natural gas-fuelled vehicles. The first step will entail setting up public stations in Rivière-du-Loup, Lévis and Cornwall, which are expected to be operational by the end of 2013. Two mobile fuelling stations have been ordered to accelerate the process. During the second phase, two additional public stations will be incorporated into the network: one east of Toronto and the other south of Montreal.
Catering to the increased demand for LNG
Given the projected rapid growth in market demand for LNG, specifically from the perspective of GMTS to which Gaz Métro provides liquefaction services, Gaz Métro is currently looking into several solutions for improving the availability of LNG in Quebec, including increasing liquefaction output, either by itself or via a subsidiary, directly through its liquefaction, storage and regasification (LSR) plant. This would be contingent on the findings of the requisite financial studies in terms of project feasibility and, eventually, on the outcome of the appropriate regulatory processes. The LSR plant, which supplies Gaz Métro customers during peak periods, is located in the east end of Montreal and has been operating for more than 40 years. As the present storage capacity of the two existing reservoirs easily meets current customer demand, Gaz Métro is now working on the front-end engineering design (FEED) for a project focusing solely on increasing liquefaction capacity to accommodate LNG needs. This should be finalized by the end of March. Following this, provided that major contractual agreements are signed with such clients as GMTS, a request for proposals may follow in April for the engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) of an additional liquefaction unit.
The natural gas advantage
The transport industry is Quebec’s leading producer of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. In 2009, it accounted for 43.5% of the total emissions generated. Road freight transportation via heavy diesel vehicles is responsible for 30.3% of this figure, making it a key target for GHG reduction efforts. Natural gas, which emits up to 25% less GHG emissions than diesel, is the alternative of choice.
Robert Transport reports using LNG has reduced CO2 emissions by 25%. Based on 74 trucks currently in operation, that represents savings of 3,480 tonnes of CO2 every year, or the equivalent of the annual emissions generated by 19 diesel trucks.
Fuel represents one of the transportation industry’s biggest expenses, and the cost of natural gas can be up to 40% less than diesel. By using natural gas to meet their fuel needs, companies can reduce their operating expenses at the same time as they improve their environmental footprint.
(This article primarily compiled using information from a Gaz Métro press release)