Wednesday, March 28, 2012


It looks like this cold may prevent me from getting out to the Harris Centre's presentation tonight on the potential of offshore natural gas as an energy source for the province.

Dr. Stephen Bruneau, Assistant Professor of Engineering at Memorial University of Newfoundland,i s offering a lecture on the issues involved with bringing natural gas onshore as a fuel to generate electricity. 

He has authored a report and a few articles about offshore natural gas, which makes him the authority on the issue in this province. Although, I am sure if what he says does not jive with Nalcor, Natural Resources Minister Kennedy will be telling the media tomorrow that he is unqualified. 

Bruneau  will answer any questions you have in a moderated discussion session, following his talk.  Considering the appetite for information related to energy in this province, this event should be informative. Are there sufficient supplies of natural gas to meet the anticipated long-term energy demands on the Island? What are the approximate costs of constructing a pipeline from the Grand Banks to the Island, and of building and operating natural gas turbines? What are the barriers to bringing gas onshore?

I wish that  Cabot Martin was part of the panel as well. I have known Cabot since I was a kid and he was assisting fisherman with the Fisherman's Protective Society. In my professional life, I have known him to be an energy expert, who follows tends and understands the field better than most. He is also an individual who has spent and raised millions of dollars in the pursuit of  oil and gas in this province. 

The province, no matter what the government shouts at people has not given natural gas the study it deserves. I have tried to stay away from the political rhetoric by researching  the issue in an effort arrive at an informed decision. My line has been let it stand, or fall, on its own merits.  A genuine current study of the cost of retrofitting Holyrood for Natural Gas that could be piped directly from the offshore has not been completed. The data that NALCOR  has been quoting is outdated. 
A  5 minute "due diligence for dummies" search on Google yielded this very comprehensive report which outlines an investigation to alternative energy sources for another isolated island - Jamaica.  The report recommended that a conversion to LNG would effectively lower their domestic rates by about $100 per MWh. The conclusion was that in a LNG import scenario that electricity could be generated on a long terms at less than 10 cents per kwh, or $100 /MWh. This is 50% that of Muskrat!  

This just goes to prove my fear, and Manitoba Hydro International's stated concern, about the lack of a  quantitative screening process for this Muskrat Falls development.  Government and Nalcor has completed a screening assessment, but there has been limited cost data to back up their conclusions. 

 Neither of the so called "independent" studies has convinced me that Muskrat Falls, as proposed,  is the  lowest cost option for the province. The answers from politicians and Nalcor are not adequate

 The event will take place at the Angus Bruneau Centre at MUN this evening at 7:30 pm.Coffee and cookies to follow!

I hope I can attend, if not, I'll watch the webcast and send questions!

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