The Energy Minister for New Brunswick, Jack Keir, said the province is adding a third natural gas storage tank to the plans of a liquefied natural gas facility under construction in Saint John, located about 70 miles northeast of Calais, Maine. New Brunswick is also expanding the primary natural gas pipeline from the province into New England, to increase the supply it can sell in the region.
"We're ideally located to supply natural gas all over Atlantic Canada and the northeastern United States," Keir said. "The concept is that we become an energy hub."
Increasing the availability of natural gas faster than the rise in demand will help lower prices, or keep them steady.
Having sources of natural gas close to the region decreases costs and lowers the chance of disruptions. Massachusetts is at the end of the pipeline for natural gas, which is delivered predominantly from the Gulf of Mexico coast.
The exception is the liquefied natural gas facility in Everett operated by Distrigas.
State Sen. Bruce Tarr, R-Gloucester, has made numerous trips to New Brunswick to meet with its energy ministers over the last several years to encourage the Canadians to open their supplies to New England.
"Jack (Keir) understands that we're his market," Tarr said.
Keir said the LNG terminal, which will have three tanks that can each hold 5.65 million cubic feet of natural gas, is a $900 million Canadian investment that will be operational by the end of 2008.
The Everett terminal is currently the only operating LNG facility in New England, said Julie Vitek, a spokeswoman for Suez Energy North America, which owns Distrigas, and supplies an average of 500 million cubic feet of natural gas to the region a day.
The rest of the natural gas used here is delivered by pipeline from the Gulf of Mexico and Canada.
Roughly 30,000 homes can be heated for a year using 5 million cubic feet of natural gas.
Canaport LNG, which is a partnership between Repsol, an energy company from Madrid, and the Canadian company Irving Oil, is building the new facility.
Robert Wilson, a spokesman for Irving Oil, said the LNG facility in Saint John will be able to send 1 billion cubic feet of natural gas per day. That could increase to 1.2 billion cubic feet per day during peak use.
An existing pipeline running from New Brunswick, through Maine and into southern New England's infrastructure has a capacity of 1 billion cubic feet of natural gas per day.
According to a 2005 report written by the Power Planning Committee of the New England Governors' Conference, natural gas demand in New England is 2005 was 4.3 billion cubic feet per day, including fuel used for home and business consumption and for electricity generation, at low demand times. It estimated the demand would jump to 5.06 billion cubic feet by 2012.
During high use times, the demand is 4.79 billion cubic feet per day and is estimated to increase to 5.87 billion cubic feet per day by 2012.
Part of the argument against two offshore liquefied natural gas ports southeast of Gloucester, one of which is under construction and to be operational by December, was the prospect of increased delivery from Canada with a company - Repsol, of Madrid, Spain - that is a producer of natural gas.
Both Excelerate Energy, the company building the LNG buoy to be operational this year, and Suez Energy North America, building the second terminal to be receiving deliveries by December 2009, are fuel suppliers.
Many fishermen and their proponents opposed the terminals because of their location in prime fishing grounds. Each buoy will have an 800-yard security perimeter around it at all times that fishing vessels cannot enter.
Vitek said Suez' project, called Neptune, is expected to bring 400 million cubic feet of natural gas per day, which can ramp up to 750 million cubic feet per day during peak consumption times.
Excelerate's project, the Northeast Gateway Energy Bridge, is projected to supply 500 million cubic feet of natural gas per day, with a peak of up to 600 million cubic feet per day, said Excelerate spokesman Douglas Pizzi
Part of the Liberal Party's campaign for the New Brunswick Legislative Assembly last year, Keir said, was to make New Brunswick self sufficient from the federal government in terms of paying for its infrastructure and schools. Its plan to accomplish that included increasing business and revenue in its energy sector.
"We campaigned on becoming an energy hub, and certainly our thought was that we're able to supply the Northeastern U.S. with their energy needs," Keir said.
New Brunswick is also considering a proposal to build a second nuclear power plant to sell electricity to New England, and a proposal to build a gasoline refinery.
Tarr said he wants the Canadians to consider more renewable electricity sources, such as tidal hydroelectric generation and wind turbines.