Union Gas looking at $100 million expansion at Dawn

Union Gas' Dawn facility at night

Union Gas is expanding its Dawn site and it will mean a big influx of cash to the area – more than $100 million according to officials.

The company recently announced it was considering a new natural gas pipeline from its Dawn site to just outside of Oil Springs. It is proposing about 16 kilometers of 48 inch of pipeline to a pumping station in Enniskillen. The project is as part of a $1 to $2 billion investment by the company as it gears up for higher demand created by a wealth of new gas accessible from the US market because of fracking.

Company officials were recently told Dawn-Euphemia Council that pipeline project will likely take a backseat to a larger, more lucrative project to build a new compressor at the Dawn Site.

Dave Lamoureux, Union Gas’ director of storage and transmission operations, told councilors that decision was made in the last week. “The Dawn to Enniskillen (pipeline) environmental call was already issued but earliest were looking now is 2018…it is very fluid situation we’re in.”

Lamoureux says Union Gas has plans to boost transmission by installing a new compressor station at Dawn and three others along the pipeline to Eastern Ontario.

The compressor project would use about 25 acres of land on the northern end of the Dawn facility on Bentpath Line. While Union Gas officials didn’t give councilors a dollar figure, the last time the company built a new compressor unit, a large amount was invested.

Union Gas opened a compressor unit in Oct. 2011. At the time, it cost the company $45 million. Union Gas Spokesperson Andrea Stass says this compressor will be “far north of that” and over the $100 million mark.

The expansion would be positive for the cash-strapped municipality of Dawn-Euphemia. The 2011 expansion brought in $170,000 in new tax revenue according to Councilor Jason Myers.

The company is notifying the public this week about its plans for a new compressor station at Dawn. Lamoureux says it is part of the construction project but he doesn’t expect many people will notice the work.

“A lot of other work will be done at the site – a lot of infrastructure underground,” he says adding “there will be an addition facility housing a 45,000 horse-powered unit.”

Lamoureux says Union Gas, like the other big energy companies, are trying to be the first out of the gate with expansion to take advantage of the new gas source. “Between Union Gas, Enbridge Pipelines and Trans Canada Pipelines, there is $2.1 billion in investment planned…overall, its very good for Ontario…. It puts Ontario in a very good position from an energy perspective.”

Union Gas plans to meet with the public on the project this spring and submit the plan to the Ontario Energy Board for approval. If all goes well, construction on the project could begin in 2016.