All this talk about LNG exporting from North America to China and other points east has made the small northern British Columbia town of Kitimat a buzzword in the oil and construction worlds.
What was once deemed a diminishing town is now figuring out how to handle the influx—and expected outpouring—of construction workers to the coastal town as three LNG export terminals could be in operation by 2020 and more soon thereafter.
Kitimat, which is a 17-hour drive from Vancouver via Prince George and a few minutes less from Edmonton, Alberta, isn’t so worried about vehicle traffic as it is pipeline traffic, though. The northern B.C. and northern Alberta LNG markets have really taken to Kitimat, with some big names in the oil industry—Chevron, Shell, etc.—using the town’s port base as a chance to get its liquefied natural gas off North American soil and transported to where they can profit most: China.
The first LNG plant in Kitimat could be online by 2015, although it is the smallest venture of those being proposed. It already has exporting permits. But there’s also plans for new pipelines and terminals, some costing as much as $5 billion, that link key North American companies into agreements with major Asian companies.
The influx in pipeline and terminal construction will bring millions upon millions of dollars in construction spending and hundreds—if not thousands—of construction jobs to the area. And Kitimat isn’t the only destination, as just a few hours north, a pair of projects has also been proposed for Prince Rupert.
As LNG exports boom in the next decade, expect northern B.C. cities to boom right along with it.
Tim Newcomb is Engineering News-Record’s Pacific Northwest contributor. He has also written for TIME, Popular Mechanics, Popular Science and more. You can follow him on Twitter at @tdnewcomb or visit his website here.