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Shale gas no threat to Mackenzie gas project

Shale-gas production poses no threat to gas deposits, says industry minister Bob McLeod

SHALE-GAS production is no threat to development of North America’s most remote conventional gas deposits, on Alaska’s North Slope and Canada’s Mackenzie Delta. Far from it, says Northwest Territories (NWT) industry minister Bob McLeod, a surge of shale-gas development would give added momentum to the slow-moving Arctic projects and build a bridge to cleaner energy supplies.

Proof that North America has secure gas supplies for at least the next century would help stabilise prices and encourage utility companies to switch from coal- and oil-fired electricity generation to cleaner-burning natural gas, McLeod tells PE.

McLeod, who has made frequent trips to Washington, DC, over the past three years to make his gas pitch to political and industry leaders, also argues that gas will play a vital role in the transportation sector. “North America has such an abundance of gas, whether shale or natural, that it can be a transitional fuel as we shift from hydrocarbons to alternative and renewable energies,” he says. “But we will need a massive investment in infrastructure.”

That includes the estimated cost of $30bn for a 4bn cubic feet a day (cf/d) overland pipeline from Alaska across Canada to the US Lower 48 states; and a C$16.2bn ($15.8bn), 1.2bn cf/d pipeline along the NWT’s Mackenzie River Valley to northern Alberta.

While Alaska is immersed in open seasons by rival pipeline groups – ExxonMobil and TransCanada on one side and the Denali project by ConocoPhillips and BP on the other – the Imperial Oil-led Mackenzie gas project is waiting for a National Energy Board verdict in December on whether it can be built and under what conditions.

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