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LNG Canada partner Petronas cuts natural gas output due to plunging prices

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Natural gas prices in Western Canada are so low that a partner in the country’s first LNG export project is shutting off money-losing wells and throttling back its exploration program.

Malaysian-owned Petronas, which has a 25 per cent interest in the $40-billion LNG Canada project, has been curtailing production by between 50 and 200 million cubic feet per day from wells in northeastern B.C. capable of producing 700 million cf/d, the CEO of its Canadian branch says.

READ MORE: Premier John Horgan optimistic major LNG facility is coming to B.C. after Petronas investment

The practice is one being adopted by a growing number of western Canadian producers to avoid selling their natural gas at prices that often don’t even cover the cost of pipeline transportation.

“We talk a lot about oil infrastructure,” Petronas Energy Canada Ltd. CEO Mark Fitzgerald said, referring to oil price discounts in Western Canada blamed on full crude pipelines.

“Gas is trapped as well and if you compare the prices that Canadian gas producers are receiving against our U.S. peers, the differentials are significant and costing us a significant amount of money.”

The company invested heavily in natural gas exploration in northeastern B.C. from 2012 to 2016, employing more than 25 drilling rigs at peak times to prove the resource potential as part of its longer-term plan to build a liquefied natural gas export terminal.

It is running only one rig now, Fitzgerald said.

READ MORE: Approving LNG Canada project could tap into glut of Alberta natural gas

Petronas backed out of its $36-billion Pacific NorthWest LNG project in 2017, but joined the LNG Canada partnership led by Royal Dutch Shell last May.

The partners agreed to go ahead with their project this fall, but it isn’t expected to be ready to begin supercooling natural gas and shipping it out until late 2023 or early 2024.

Ian Archer, an associate director with IHS Markit, said Western Canada’s gas industry was stable from 2000 to 2008, with production of about 16 billion cf/d and prices of around $10 per gigajoule, but that changed when new drilling and well completion technologies emerged that allowed the U.S. to dramatically grow shale gas production.

Cheaper U.S. gas began displacing western Canadian gas in markets like California, Eastern Canada and New York, and the price in Western Canada dropped by half, with production falling to around 13 billion cf/d by 2012, he said.

The trend worsened when the new drilling technologies began to be used in northeastern B.C. and northwestern Alberta to produce light oil products like condensate, which is in demand as a diluent to mix with raw bitumen from the oilsands to allow it to flow in a pipeline.

READ MORE: LNG Canada announces final investment decision to build export facility in Kitimat

Condensate wells also typically contain high levels of natural gas and the boost in gas production back to over 16 billion cf/d has overwhelmed pipeline capacity and dropped gas prices this year to a projected $1.43 per gigajoule, about one-third of the price in 2014, said Archer.

Meanwhile, the U.S. benchmark Henry Hub spot price is forecast to average US$3.17 per GJ in 2018 (about C$4.12), according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

Pipeline companies are spending billions of dollars to expand their gas systems in B.C. and Alberta, which will improve market access, but it’s difficult to see where the gas can be sent to win better prices, Archer said.

LNG Canada’s first phase is expected to require about two billion cf/d of gas to produce about 14 million tonnes per year of LNG, but most of that gas is expected to come from the partners, so a big price improvement isn’t expected, he said.

READ MORE: Former B.C. premier Christy Clark says she doesn’t care who gets credit for delivering LNG

The best hope of better prices is stronger demand from additional LNG facilities, conversions of coal-burning power plants to gas and more growth in the oilsands, where natural gas is used to produce steam and power, Archer said.

Mike Rose, CEO of Tourmaline Oil Corp., says his Calgary-based company froze gas production at about 1.35 billion cf/d at the end of 2017 because of low prices and has switched its focus since to oil production growth.

Gas marketing is more important than ever, he said, as Tourmaline tries to move more gas to any hub that offers better prices than those in Alberta or B.C.

“It’s the most challenging time that I’ve ever seen in the Canadian oil and gas sector by a long shot.”

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Anglais

Nostalgia and much more with Starburst XXXtreme

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Get a taste of adventure with Starburst XXXtreme based on the legendary NetEnt Game. The nostalgic themes are sure to capture fans of the classic version as they get treated to higher intensity, better visuals, and features. The most significant element of the game is its volatility. Patience will not be an essential virtue considering the insane gameplay, and there is a lot of win potential involved. It retains the original makeup of the previous game while adding a healthy dose of adrenaline. 

Starburst Visuals and Symbols

The game is definitely more conspicuous than before. The setting happens over a 5-reel, 3-row game grid with nine fixed win lines, which function if a succession from the left to the right reel is present. Only those players that that attain the highest win per bet line are paid. From a visual standpoint, the Starburst XXXtreme slots illustrates lightning effects behind the reels, which is not surprising as it is inherited from the original version. Available themes include Classic, Jewels, and Space. The game is also available in both desktop and mobile versions, which is advantageous for players considering the global pandemic. According to Techguide, American gamers are increasingly having more engaging gaming experiences to socialize to fill the gap of in-person interaction. Starburst XXXtreme allows them to fill the social void at a time when there is so much time to be had indoors. 

Starburst XXXTreme Features

Players get to alternate on three features which are Starburst Wilds, XXXtreme Spins, and Random Wilds. The first appears on reels 2,3, or 4. When these land, they expand to cover all positions while also calculating the wins. They are also locked for a respin. If a new one hits, it also becomes locked while awarding another respin. Starburst XXXtreme offers a choice between two scenarios for a higher stake. In one scenario with a ten times stake, the Starburst Wild is set on random on reels 2,3, or 4, and a multiplier starts the respin. The second scenario, which has a 95 times stake, starts with two guaranteed starburst wilds on reels 2,3, or 4. it also plays out using respin game sequence and features. The game also increases the potential with the Random Wilds feature to add Starburst Wilds to a vacant reel at the end of a spin. Every Starburst Wild gives a random multiplier with potential wins of x2, x3, x5, x10, x25, x50, x100, or even x150.

The new feature is sure to be a big hit with the gaming market as online gambling has shown significant growth during the lockdown. AdAge indicates the current casino customer base is an estimated one in five Americans, so Starburst XXXtreme’s additional features will achieve considerable popularity. 

What We Think About The Game

The gambling market has continued to diversify post-pandemic, so it is one of the most opportune times to release an online casino-based game. Thankfully Starburst XXXtreme features eye-catching visuals, including the jewels and space themes. These attract audience participation and make the gameplay inviting. The game also has a nostalgic edge. The previous NetEnt iteration featured similar visuals and gameplay, so the audience has some familiarity with it. The producers have revamped this version by tweaking the features to improve the volatility and engagement. 

That is characterized by the potential win cap of 200,000 times the bet. Starburst XXXtreme does not just give betting alternatives for players that want to go big. The increase of multipliers also provides a great experience. If the respins in the previous version were great, knowing that multipliers can go hundreds of times overtakes the game to a new level. 

Players should get excited about this offering. All of the features can be triggered within a single spin. Whether one plays the standard game or takes the XXXtreme spin route, it is possible to activate all of the features. Of course, the potential 200,000 times potential is a huge carrot. However, the bet size is probably going to be restricted and vary depending on the casino. It is also worth pointing out that a malfunction during the gameplay will void all of the payouts and progress. Overall, the game itself has been designed to provide a capped win of 200,000 times the original bet. 

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Anglais

‘We’re back’: Montreal festival promoters happy to return but looking to next year

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In downtown Montreal, it’s festival season.

In the city’s entertainment district, a musical act was conducting a sound check on stage Friday evening — the second day of the French-language version of the renowned Just For Laughs comedy festival. Tickets for many of the festival’s free outdoor shows — limited by COVID-19 regulations — were sold out.

Two blocks away, more than 100 people were watching an acoustic performance by the Isaac Neto Trio — part of the last weekend of the Festival International Nuits d’Afrique, a celebration of music from the African continent and the African diaspora.

With COVID-19 restrictions continuing to limit capacity, festival organizers say they’re glad to be back but looking forward to next year when they hope border restrictions and capacity limits won’t affect their plans.

Charles Décarie, Just For Laughs’ CEO and president, said this is a “transition year.”

“Even though we have major constraints from the public health group in Montreal, we’ve managed to design a festival that can navigate through those constraints,” Décarie said.

The French-language Juste pour rire festival began on July 15 and is followed by the English-language festival until July 31.

When planning began in February and March, Décarie said, organizers came up with a variety of scenarios for different crowd sizes, ranging from no spectators to 50 per cent of usual capacity.

“You’ve got to build scenarios,” he said. “You do have to plan a little bit more than usual because you have to have alternatives.”

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Anglais

MELS new major movie studio to be built in Montreal

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MONTREAL — MELS Studios will build a new film studio in Montreal, filling some of the gap in supply to meet the demand of Hollywood productions.

MELS president Martin Carrier said on Friday that MELS 4 studio construction will begin « as soon as possible », either in the fall or winter of next year. The studio could host productions as early as spring 2023.

The total investment for the project is $76 million, with the Quebec government contributing a $25 million loan. The project will create 110 jobs, according to the company.

The TVA Group subsidiary’s project will enable it to stand out « even more » internationally, according to Quebecor president and CEO Pierre Karl Péladeau. In the past, MELS Studios has hosted several major productions, including chapters of the X-Men franchise. The next Transformers movie is shooting this summer in Montreal.

Péladeau insisted that local cultural productions would also benefit from the new facility, adding that the studio ensures foreign revenues and to showcase talent and maintain an industry of Quebec producers.

STUDIO SHORTAGE

The film industry is cramped in Montreal.

According to a report published last May by the Bureau du cinéma et de la télévision du Québec (BCTQ), there is a shortage of nearly 400,000 square feet of studio space.

With the addition of MELS 4, which will be 160,000 square feet, the company is filling part of the gap.

Carrier admitted that he has had to turn down contracts because of the lack of space, representing missed opportunities of « tens of millions of dollars, not only for MELS, but also for the Quebec economy. »

« Montreal’s expertise is in high demand, » said Montreal Mayor Valérie Plante, who was present at the announcement.

She said she received great testimonials from « Netflix, Disney, HBO and company » during an economic mission to Los Angeles in 2019.

« What stands out is that they love Montreal because of its expertise, knowledge and beauty. We need more space, like MELS 4, » she said.

There is still not enough capacity in Quebec, acknowledged Minister of Finance, the Economy and Innovation Eric Girard.

« It is certain that the government is concerned about fairness and balance, so if other requests come in, we will study them with the same seriousness as we have studied this one, » he said.

Grandé Studios is the second-largest player in the industry. Last May, the company said it had expansion plans that should begin in 2022. Investissement Québec and Bell are minority shareholders in the company.

For its part, MELS will have 400,000 square feet of production space once MELS 4 is completed. The company employs 450 people in Quebec and offers a range of services including studio and equipment rentals, image and sound postproduction, visual effects and a virtual production platform.

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