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  1. Categories: Business

    A Retool and Refuel for the Great Lakes

    Shell Canada plans to build a small-scale, liquefied natural gas plant (LNG) at its refinery near Sarnia. Once regulatory approvals are secured, their “Great Lakes Corridor Project” will require 50 to 100 short-term construction jobs.

    But new jobs aren’t the only great story here.

    The refinery is expected to be the first LNG facility in eastern Canada, producing over 1.51 million litres per day. Its strategic location on the St. Clair River, which connects the upper and lower Great Lakes and proximity to Michigan are key – allowing for supply to marine, rail and truck customers. (The area already services about 80 Canadian and 65 American ships.)

    With new regulations forcing upgrades to marine emissions systems on an already beleaguered shipping industry (deeply dependent on diesel) the facility has been described as a “game-changing event.” This development will immediately lower fuel costs by roughly 30%.

    Though the plant is three years off, companies are already taking notice. Montreal-based Canadian Steamship Lines is investigating conversion. Another company is already on board – the Interlake Steamship Company will be converting their existing diesel fleet to cheaper, cleaner-burning natural gas.

    Though the St. Lawrence Seaway’s never seen an LNG-fuelled ship, seaway management said there’s no reason it can’t happen. “LNG is certainly becoming a more important fuel source,” said spokesman Andrew Bogora, “and the economic argument for LNG is certainly one that shippers are taking note of.”

    With a new facility planned for Geismar, La. (serving the U.S. Gulf and Atlantic coasts) and the massive 12-million tonne export plant planned for Kitimat, B.C. natural gas seems to be part of a changing tide.

    We’d like to hear your perspective on the economic possibilities of converting to natural gas in the comments below.


    Source: Globe and Mail, 5 Mar. 2013, at

  2. Categories: Business

    Clearing the ice while cleaning up the books

    Community arenas, university sports facilities, and even NHL teams have already converted to natural gas ice surfacers. Why? Converting Canada’s machines (the biggest names being Olympia and Zamboni) to natural gas presents a sizable and sensible cost-cutting measure. (Generally, rinks can enjoy up to a 65% savings versus propane.) Considering the number of arenas across Canada, these conversions represent a tidal change and significant cost savings.
    Although most ice surfacers are fueled by propane, there are even some that operate on gasoline – which, as you can well imagine, is an antiquated and far dirtier option. Many aging technologies exist that need to be brought up to date.

    Cash-strapped municipalities, for a simple operational expense of only a few thousand dollars for a natural gas retrofit kit, can begin recouping their costs almost immediately. Plus, the arena’s existing natural gas lines would be outfitted with a refueling appliance that can be rented from their nearest utility. The ability to refuel their machines “right from the tap” cannot be underestimated.

    Firstly, natural gas literally halves fuel consumption, so it’s far more efficient than propane. This also spares arenas from the nuisance of having to order, stock, and store a multitude of propane tanks (most consume 200-300 tanks annually). And because natural gas cylinders are mounted to machines permanently, they also spare the hassle and strain of switching out heavy propane cylinders.

    If larger NHL arenas are leading the way – smaller community rinks can’t ever be far behind. Has your neighbourhood arena made the switch? Can you think of other types of municipal services that could benefit from converting to natural gas? Let us know in the comments below.


    Connelly, K. Community ice rinks turning to natural gas-powered Zambonis.
    ERI Case Study. Natural Gas Zamboni: It Clears the Air While It Clears the Ice.

  3. Categories: Uncategorized

    Affordable Energy for Canada