Don’t bet big on liquefied natural gas, warns expert

An international expert is warning the Yukon not to put all its eggs in the liquefied-natural-gas basket.

An international expert is warning the Yukon not to put all its eggs in the liquefied-natural-gas basket.

David Hughes, a fellow with the Post Carbon Institute, will be in Whitehorse on Thursday to give a talk on how the territory fits into the global energy picture.

“There’s quite a bit of controversy, I understand, about LNG being used to generate electricity, versus diesel,” he said in an interview this week. “Yukon is in an enviable position because of all the hydro, which is a big proportion. But down the road it looks like that’s not going to be enough.”

Hughes said he recognizes that Yukon will need to continue to rely on diesel or natural gas for energy in the short term. But he has bigger dreams for the future.

Instead of a mainly-hydro system with diesel or LNG backup, he asks why not a solar and wind system with hydro backup?

“The beauty of hydro is that it’s dispatchable. It means you can turn it on and off. Wind is intermittent, solar’s intermittent, so they need to be backed up.”

Hughes’s recent research has focussed mainly on the shale gas industry in the United States. His 2013 report on the subject works to dispel the myth of an endless supply of cheap fracked gas.

“What’s the long-term supply picture for shale in North America? There’s a lot of hype surrounding it, you know, ‘cheap gas forever,’” he said.

“Production is rising in some plays, but production has collapsed in others. Looking long term, from my analytical work, prices are going to have to go up. If you’re drilling in low-quality parts of the play, so the wells produce half as much gas, they still cost as much to drill. So obviously you need higher prices.”

When Yukon thinks about its energy future, it needs to consider that natural gas is a non-renewable resource, and prices will necessarily have to go up, he said.

“If you’re going to have a long-term plan, it should recognize that, and develop a strategy that’s going to minimize the impact for people if supplies become limited and if prices go up a lot.”

“Likely you can’t get away from needing some diesel/LNG for backup, certainly in the shorter term,” he said.

However, “I would look at things that would reduce consumption, and alternatives, before I looked at a straight swap out of diesel for LNG.

When it comes to a shale gas production industry here in the Yukon, Hughes said that’s very likely to still be quite a ways away.

Gas plays in northern B.C. that are still in early stages of production will be developed before the industry knocks on the territory’s door, he said.

Those northern reservoirs are already expensive to develop compared with other regions of North America, and Yukon’s gas would likely cost more still, said Hughes.

Hughes will speak Thursday at 7 p.m. at the Beringia Centre. The Yukon Conservation Society organized the event. Admission is by donation.

Contact Jacqueline Ronson at

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Whitehorse and Carcross will be among seven northern communities to have unlimited internet options beginning Dec. 1. (Yukon News file)
Unlimited internet for some available Dec. 1

Whitehorse and Carcross will be among seven northern communities to have unlimited… Continue reading

Willow Brewster, a paramedic helping in the COVID-19 drive-thru testing centre, holds a swab used for the COVID-19 test moments before conducting a test with it on Nov. 24. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)
An inside look at the COVID-19 drive-thru testing centre

As the active COVID-19 case count grew last week, so too did… Continue reading

Conservation officers search for a black bear in the Riverdale area in Whitehorse on Sept. 17. The Department of Environment intends to purchase 20 semi-automatic AR-10 rifles, despite the inclusion of the weapons in a recently released ban introduced by the federal government, for peace officers, such as conservation officers. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Environment Minister defends purchase of AR-10 rifles for conservation officers

The federal list of banned firearms includes an exception for peace officers

Yukonomist Keith Halliday
Yukonomist: The K-shaped economic recovery and what Yukoners can do about it

It looks like COVID-19 will play the role of Grinch this holiday… Continue reading

Fossil finds at Mt. Stephen. (Photo: Sarah Fuller/Parks Canada)
Extreme hiking, time travel and science converge in the Burgess Shale

Climb high in the alpine and trace your family tree back millions of years – to our ocean ancestors

Black Press Media and BraveFace have come together to support children facing life-threatening conditions. Net proceeds from these washable, reusable, three-layer masks go to Make-A-Wish Foundation BC & Yukon.
Put on a BraveFace: Mask fundraiser helps make children’s wishes come true

From Black Press Media + BraveFace – adult, youth and kid masks support Make-A-Wish Foundation

Colin McDowell, the director of land management for the Yukon government, pulls lottery tickets at random during a Whistle Bend property lottery in Whitehorse on Sept. 9, 2019. A large amount of lots are becoming available via lottery in Whistle Bend as the neighbourhood enters phase five of development. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Lottery for more than 250 new Whistle Bend lots planned for January 2021

Eight commercial lots are being tendered in additional to residential plots

The Government of Yukon Main Administration Building in Whitehorse on Aug. 21. The Canada Border Services Agency announced Nov. 26 that they have laid charges against six people, including one Government of Yukon employee, connected to immigration fraud that involved forged Yukon government documents. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Charges laid in immigration fraud scheme, warrant out for former Yukon government employee

Permanent residency applications were submitted with fake Yukon government documents

Whitehorse City Hall. (Joel Krahn/Yukon News file)
City hall, briefly

A look at decisions made by Whitehorse city council this week

Karen Wenkebach has been appointed as a judge for the Yukon Supreme Court. (Yukon News file)
New justice appointed

Karen Wenckebach has been appointed as a judge for the Supreme Court… Continue reading

Catherine Constable, the city’s manager of legislative services, speaks at a council and senior management (CASM) meeting about CASM policy in Whitehorse on June 13, 2019. Constable highlighted research showing many municipalities require a lengthy notice period before a delegate can be added to the agenda of a council meeting. Under the current Whitehorse procedures bylaw, residents wanting to register as delegates are asked to do so by 11 a.m. on the Friday ahead of the council meeting. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Changes continue to be contemplated for procedures bylaw

Registration deadline may be altered for delegates

Cody Pederson of the CA Storm walks around LJ’s Sabres player Clay Plume during the ‘A’ division final of the 2019 Yukon Native Hockey Tournament. The 2021 Yukon Native Hockey Tournament, scheduled for March 25 to 28 in Whitehorse next year, was officially cancelled on Nov. 24 in a press release from organizers. (John Hopkins-Hill/Yukon News file)
2021 Yukon Native Hockey Tournament cancelled

The 2021 Yukon Native Hockey Tournament, scheduled for March 25 to 28… Continue reading

Most Read