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Canada's first LNG export to China on its way by container

VANCOUVER, Nov 22 (Reuters) - British Columbia has sent its first shipment of liquefied natural gas to China, part of a pilot project to test the feasibility of small-scale LNG exports by container ship from the Pacific Coast province to global markets, FortisBC said on Wednesday.

The relatively small shipment of 950 gigajoules of gas, roughly 17 tonnes of LNG, is from FortisBC’s Tilbury plant in the Vancouver suburb of Delta. It was marketed and shipped by Vancouver’s True North Energy Corporation and China’s CIMC Enric Holdings Ltd.

Because the LNG is being transported by container rather than on a tanker, there is no need for massive export and import terminals. Once the container arrives in China, it can be moved by rail, truck or barge to its final destination, said Calvin Xu, chief executive of True North Energy.

“This creates a much more flexible source of LNG supply to the end users,” said Xu. “Buyers can import LNG directly in a small scale without having to invest in billions of dollars in LNG receiving infrastructure.”

Fortis is in the midst of C$400 million ($315 million)expansion at its Tilbury LNG plant, which will boost capacity at the facility to 250,000 tonnes per annum (TPA).

Most of that LNG will used domestically, for transport and powering remote communities, though some will be available for small-scale exports to smaller industrial users in Asia, whether on a spot basis or on long-term contracts, said Doug Stout, vice president of market development at FortisBC.

“These ISO container markets are quite attractive because they look a lot like filling tanker trucks to serve domestic markets,” said Stout.

Fortis is separately contemplating a larger expansion at Tilbury, which would include export facilities. While dozens of LNG export terminals have been proposed for the West Coast of Canada, so far none have moved to construction. ($1 = 1.2698 Canadian dollars) (Reporting by Julie Gordon; Editing by Lisa Shumaker)