Or CLICK to download a pdf of this article
Resource projects mean work for B.C. loggers
Fueled by high commodity prices and growing power demands, a slew of resource industry-related and hydro power mega projects in B.C. could keep loggers busy doing right-of-way clearing and site prep work.
By Jim Stirling
The experienced logger and trucker has become an endangered species in British Columbia’s north-central interior. The collapse of the U.S. lumber market close coupled with the recession has taken a heavy toll on an aging work force.
Competition for the loggers’ services, equipment and expertise from other natural resource industries is thinning the herd further.
The mining and oil and gas industries remain buoyant and in expansionist modes fueled by high commodity prices and sustained by Asian market growth. The situation is reflected in a series of regional mega projects ranging from underway to imminent and under active planning.
These major projects typically begin their construction phases with right-of-way or site clearing. The process creates a demand for forest harvesting equipment like feller bunchers or harvesters, skidders, processors, loaders and logging trucks to get the decked wood off-site.
These non-traditional opportunities can provide loggers with welcome infusions of cash during the break-up period and the generally slower winter months.
“They can be good in terms of extra work,” agrees MaryAnne Arcand, executive director, member services for the Central Interior Logging Association based in Prince George. “The Pacific Trail Pipeline people have told us they want 1000 machines on the ground by this August,” she reports.
Pacific Trail is clearing right of way for its natural gas pipeline which will connect to an existing distribution network near Summit Lake, about 48 kilometres north of Prince George.
From there, it will stretch about 463 kilometres to Kitimat where the gas will be converted to liquefied form for shipment to the Asia Pacific.
Pacific Trail is being developed by Apache Canada Ltd., EOG Resources Canada and Encana Corp. The project’s estimated cost is $1 billion and it is to be completed by 2015.
The Northwest Transmission Line is another major job expected to gather momentum during 2012 and provide more possible options for loggers and truckers in the Terrace-Hazelton regions. Falling, land clearing and road building work is being created along the 344 kilometre route to Bob Quinn Lake near the Highway 37 corridor. BC Hydro is the developer and has selected a design-build construction group for the 287 kilovolt electricity transmission extension. The likely project cost is $500 million, with completion estimated in 2014.
The power line is widely predicted to be a catalyst for a surge in mineral development in the northwest, previously stymied by reliance on diesel-generated electrical power, prohibitively expensive for an industrial scale operation.
Imperial Metals Corporation’s Red Chris open pit copper-gold mine is likely to be the first major operation in the region to take advantage of the closer connection to the provincial electricity grid. A transmission line spur will be extended to the proposed mine site, about 80 kilometres south of Dease Lake, requiring land clearing and road building. Red Chris is expected to cost about $443 million.
In the same region, AltaGas has its $700 million Forest-Kerr run of river hydro project, again requiring right-of-way logging. Power generated by the project will be fed by transmission line to the northern terminus of the BC Hydro line near Bob Quinn Lake.
Two even larger projects in the environmental approval seeking stages have work creating implications for log harvesting contractors, truckers and their equipment. Public hearings are underway and are scheduled to continue into the estimated $5.5 billion Encana Northern Gateway Pipeline. The parallel oil and condensate carrying pipelines would transport product from near Edmonton to Kitimat. If the project proceeds, it will require creation of a 25 metre wide right of way stretching 1172 kilometres.
BC Hydro’s massive 1100 megawatt capacity Site C hydro electric dam and reservoir would be about seven kilometres southwest of Fort St. John.
The Site C project has an estimated price tag of $7.9 billion and requires environmental certifications and other regulatory permits and approvals before any construction starts.
This page and all contents ©1996-2012 Logging and Sawmilling Journal (L&S J) and TimberWest Journal.