Sep 13, 2019

New LNG Canada CEO Peter Zebedee on the big picture and the countdown to LNG production in Kitimat


Originally posted as Sponsored Content on The Vancouver Sun, on September 13, 2019.

A line that Peter Zebedee has always included on his resume: “I want to lead and guide the next generation of energy projects in Canada,” was recently realized when Zebedee took over the reins of the LNG Canada project in Kitimat, B.C.

The largest private sector investment in Canadian history, the enormity of the project isn’t measured only in dollars. Zebedee says he was humbled when he saw how the power lines had been relocated to make way for the project.

“The lines were raised to a height of five storeys to accommodate the gigantic gas processing modules that will be shipped here and married to the piping and processing equipment we’re putting into place now,” he says. “The physical dimensions of what’s to come are staggering. It’s awe inspiring to see this emerging project against the natural beauty of the Kitimat area. But with my knowledge of the enormous challenges ahead, it’s also a bit intimidating.”

The site has undergone significant changes under former chief executive officer (CEO) Andy Calitz, who not only oversaw site preparation, but carefully orchestrated agreements and contracts with governments, business partners, First Nations and other stakeholders that will govern the operation of the plant over the next 40 years.

Zebedee is now bringing his best to the table, leveraging a proven ability to work with large organizations to deliver key objectives. If the first year of the LNG Canada project focused on setting the stage, the years to come will be all about execution, ramping up construction activity with a goal of commencing liquefied natural gas (LNG) production before mid-next decade.

Zebedee recently relocated to Vancouver from Edmonton, but he’s no stranger to the west coast. He graduated from the University of British Columbia with a degree in geological engineering in 1997.

“My first position coming out of school was working at a gold mine in northern B.C.,” he says. “This is like coming home.”

He comes by his oil and gas credentials honestly, working his way up from a geotechnical engineer in the Alberta oilsands, through increasingly senior positions at Syncrude, Petro Canada and LNG Canada joint venture participant Shell.

He worked extensively with Calitz during a summer transition into his new role.

“Andy impressed on me that the way we build this project is as important as building the project itself,” says Zebedee. “We need to honour not only the letter but the spirit of the agreements we made with First Nations, governments, industry, NGOs and the citizens of B.C.”

Zebedee is particularly mindful of commitments made to First Nations to provide skills training, jobs and shared financial benefits. While First Nations are optimistic about the future of the project, many recall promises from other companies that were either bent so far as to become unrecognizable or broken outright.

New LNG Canada CEO Peter Zebedee on the big picture and the countdown to LNG production in Kitimat
LNG Canada is building a 4,500-bed workforce accommodation village to house its construction workforce.

“This project was built on the concept of shared value,” he says. “That means stable and shared revenue, contract procurement, providing training, skills development and employment and promoting the social welfare of First Nations people. We’re doing what we said we would and we have specific metrics in place, not only to keep us honest, but to demonstrate that we’re already keeping our promises.”

LNG Canada also made commitments to the province on the environmental impact of the project.

“Our project is designed to produce the lowest greenhouse gas (GHGs) emissions of any project operating in the world – 30 percent lower than the best performing facility, and about half that of the average large-scale LNG export facility,” says Zebedee. “Through the entire life cycle of this facility, we’ll challenge ourselves to continuous improvement regarding our environmental footprint. This project will also reflect well on Canada’s capacity to do good for the world, by offsetting the high levels of GHGs that would otherwise have been created to supply energy from sources such as coal to customers in Asia. Those customers will breathe cleaner air as a result of what we’re doing here.”

Zebedee also pointed out that LNG Canada’s low GHG intensity could serve as a model for new LNG investments, even displacing less efficient facilities in the energy transition to a lower carbon future.

Completing the construction project on time will take a lot of grit, hard work and determination.

“It’s not a sprint,” notes Zebedee. “It’s a five-year marathon of methodical work that we want to complete safely, while taking care of our people and respecting the environment. For me, the culmination of that work won’t be bolting the final component into place, but seeing the stern of the ship leaving the harbour with the first shipment of liquefied natural gas.”

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