Yukon consults on natural gas regulations

Yukon is asking for feedback on regulations for natural gas processing plants. The territory is eager to develop the capacity to use natural gas instead of diesel as a backup power source.

Yukon is asking for feedback on regulations for natural gas processing plants.

The territory is eager to develop the capacity to use natural gas instead of diesel as a backup power source.

“This report suggests natural gas from the Eagle Plain basin in northern Yukon can meet Yukon’s energy requirements for the foreseeable future, is likely less expensive than diesel fuel and has 40 per cent less greenhouse gas emissions,” according to the summary document for the proposed regulations.

Changes to the Yukon Oil and Gas Act implemented last year allow for the handling, storage and vaporization of the fuel. Now, the government is working on finalizing the regulations that would go along with that.

In addition to being used as an alternative to diesel for Yukon’s energy grid, natural gas could be used off-grid by mining companies that are too big or too far away to access Yukon Energy’s power.

For example, Western Copper and Gold’s proposed Casino mine would use twice as much energy as is currently available from all of the Yukon’s hydro dams.

The company has been collaborating with Yukon Energy on feasibility studies to bring liquefied natural gas power to the Yukon.

That would mean, at least in the beginning, trucking LNG from Outside and burning it in generators. Eventually, however, the gas could be sourced locally.

All of the Yukon’s seven diesel generators will be retired in the next decade. Two large units expire within the next two to three years.

It is very likely that these first two units will be replaced with generators that can burn natural gas and this will be the first stage in the territory’s adoption of the fuel, said Yukon Energy in November.

“The need for a regulation that will ensure gas plants in Yukon are regulated from cradle to grave is clear and immediate,” according to the summary document.

But the group Yukoners Concerned About Oil and Gas Exploration/Development says that the rush towards natural gas power will pave the way for fracking in the Yukon.

Hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, is a controversial method of extracting natural gas that involves blasting pressurized water, sand and chemicals deep underground to release gas trapped in the rocks.

“An LNG plant almost certainly means fracking in the Yukon,” said Don Roberts in a press release, on behalf of the group. “Most of Yukon’s gas is shale gas, which requires hydraulic fracturing.”

Most of the natural gas produced in British Columbia today is accessed through fracking.

And natural gas is no better than diesel, said Roberts.

“LNG is not cheaper than diesel if you factor in the purchase of new LNG generators and the cost of trucking LNG from the south and keeping it at 140 degrees below zero. If fracked Yukon gas is used in the generation of power, then the destruction of the land, water and air and our way of life is included in the calculation, then the cost is beyond imagining.”

The government has committed to a review of fracking before it is allowed in the territory, and Roberts says Yukon is not honouring its commitment to consultation by pushing through regulations on LNG plants.

Information on the consultation can be found at www.yukonoilandgas.com. The government will accept comments on the proposed regulations until May 8.

Contact Jacqueline Ronson at jronson@yukon-news.com