BY JEAN SORENSEN - Camp builders are lining up to catch business from B.C.'s anticipated LNG boom, but early indications are it will take a concerted industry effort to meet burgeoning demand that is literally coming down the pipe.
Northgate Industries vice-president of sales Jon Warren said two expressions of interest are being circulated to camp providers regarding pipelines, one from a company and the other from an EPC (engineering, procurement and construction) firm.
The demands will stretch the industry, he predicted, as just one project calls for an estimated 15,000 beds over a 600-kilometre route.
“There is only so much one company can handle,” he said.
Meeting demand will take the concerted effort of all camp providers, he said.
“There are going to be some huge camps built over the next four years,” agreed Canada North Camps’ Mike Loftus, sales manager for B.C., who recently arrived in the province to expand the Alberta company’s business.
Loftus has seen one expression of interest from TransCanada, which will set up camps in 57 locations along a B.C. pipeline route.
Other slated or possible projects include Kinder Morgan pipeline twinning, as well as the TransCanada and Pacific Trail pipelines to Kitimat.
“(It) will require the co-operation of the whole industry,” he agreed.
Loftus is also in B.C. to scope out much needed community participation and support along the proposed routes to meet labour and skills needs.
There are three larger turnkey players in the market, who can provide all services including facilities camp construction, transportation, operation of the camps and catering.
They are ATCO, Horizon North and Canada North Camps.
Others provide some of the four key elements.
“Everyone brings some expertise,” said Warren about the other camp providers.
He added that they provide two or three of the four turnkey needs.
Northgate’s niche is the 500-man camp, often in more remote areas with everything but catering.
“If the food is not good, you can get rid of the caterer in a day,” he said.
The impact of the LNG development will be felt along three fronts: more drilling camps in northeastern B.C., along the pipeline route, and at the LNG ports.
In Kitimat, a port with several LNG projects proposed, the workforce housing crunch is already happening with Rio Tinto’s $3.5 billion plant modernization.
“We have completed an<0x000a> 1, 800 bed workforce housing facility in Kitimat in support of Rio Tinto Alcan’s smelter modernization project,” said Alisa Charkova, a spokesperson for ATCO Structures & Logistics (ASL) by email.
“We also provided modular accommodation during the construction of a hydroelectric power station in Kemano, built to provide energy for the smelter.”
ALS has the contract to set up Kitimat LNG’s camp.
“ASL is currently installing the pioneer camp for the Chevron/Apache LNG project (600 beds),” she said.
An EPC contract has been awarded to joint-venture Fluor Corp and JGC Corp. of Japan for the plant, which will be fed by the Pacific Trail Pipeline.
Rio Tinto’s housing shortage, said Kitimat mayor Joanne Monaghan, is causing the company to bring the 588-passenger Baltic Sea ferry, the Silja Festival, owned by Estonia-based Tallink, as accommodation.
It just arrived in Vancouver for retrofits.
The PTI Group is also eyeing the port town’s housing shortage.
Kitimat’s city planner Daniel Martin said PTI Group received zoning approval on a 2,154 bed temporary workers housing accommodation, which expires in August 2035.
“They have not yet applied for a development permit,” said Martin.
However, under the zoning approval PTI has agreed to contribute $500 per bed to a city affordable housing fund.
PTI said its camp lodges operate like hotels for workers.
Also looking to build an LNG plant in Kitimat is the LNG Canada Export Project, a partnership of Shell, Canada Energy, Diamond LNG Canada, Korea Gas Corporation and Phoenix Energy.
TransCanada has been selected to develop the 650-kilometre pipeline to deliver natural gas from the Montney gas-producing region, near Dawson Creek, B.C., to Kitimat.