Imperial Oil eyes LNG sites in Canada

Thu Apr 25, 2013 2:45pm EDT
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CALGARY, Alberta (Reuters) - Imperial Oil Ltd (IMO.TO: Quote), Canada's No. 2 oil producer and refiner, is looking at sites for a potential liquefied natural gas export plant on British Columbia's Pacific coast, though the company is far from ready to decide if it will build the facility.

Imperial, which on Thursday reported a 21 percent fall in first-quarter profit due to lower crude prices and increased refinery maintenance, has put in what the company termed "an expression of interest" for a site at Grassy Point, about 30 kilometers (19 miles), north of Prince Rupert, B.C. It is one of a number of sites the company is considering for an LNG plant.

"It's an expression of interest to look at, with the Crown, what we can do on that potential site, as we do with others," Richard Kruger, the company's chief executive, told reporters.

"We'll look around the coast, at this site as well as others, to see what best meets our needs."

The company, along with majority owner, Exxon Mobil Corp (XOM.N: Quote), has been considering whether to build a gas-liquefaction plant for more than a year, as it looks to exploit its massive shale gas holdings in northeastern British Columbia.

It added to those shale reserves earlier this year, when it and Exxon acquired Celtic Resources Ltd for C$2.6 billion ($2.55 billion) to gain its promising shale oil and gas properties in Western Canada.

Chevron Corp (CVX.N: Quote), Royal Dutch Shell Plc (RDSa.L: Quote) , BG Group Plc BG.L, Malaysia's Petronas PETR.UL and others are already in the early stages of building their own LNG facilities in British Columbia. However Kruger said Imperial is far from being ready to proceed with its own facility.

"With LNG projects it's hard to put an absolute timeline to it," he said. "They're complex and there are a lot of components. But we're working hard right now on each of those components to see what we can assemble."