Canada’s LNG marathon man: pioneering a dream from seashore to coast

February 28, 2015 - garden totes

Alfred Sorensen had his “aha moment” in 2007 when he had a possibility confront with Randy Eresman, afterwards arch executive officer of Encana Corp., during an investors conference in London.

During a break, Mr. Eresman asked his associate Calgarian what business he was in. Mr. Sorensen told him that he was streamer a plan to pierce liquefied healthy gas into British Columbia during Kitimat.

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The blunt respond from a male who was afterwards streamer one of Canada’s largest oil and gas producers: “That’s a stupidest thought we ever listened of.”

Mr. Sorensen competence have responded with rebuttal to Mr. Eresman’s uncivil assessment. After all, some of a world’s biggest appetite companies were still formulation to build LNG import terminals via North America.

Instead, he listened and reacted. He went behind to Calgary and told his partners they had a problem, that a nascent shale gas business via a U.S. and Canada was expected to inundate a North American market. In a unfortunate bid to save their investment, they topsy-turvy course. Kitimat LNG became a initial of what is now scarcely 20 West Coast projects proposing to melt Canadian healthy gas and trade it to Asia.

In 2010, with a plan unfortunate for cash, Mr. Sorensen was forced to sell control of Kitimat LNG in a $300-million understanding with Apache Corp. and EOG Resources. His personal take: $30-million.

Now, a male who pioneered a LNG dream in B.C. is streamer a new venture, Pieridae Energy Ltd., that proposes to build an $8.5-billion LNG trade trickery on another Canadian coast, in Goldboro, N.S.

Skeptics doubt possibly possibly LNG plan will be built, given a outrageous collateral mandate and rival markets, as countries such as a United States and Australia competition to income in.

Still, Mr. Sorensen exudes confidence, even as he acknowledges a hurdles of a tellurian LNG business. Owlish and counsel behind his thick glasses, he totes adult a pluses of an East Coast LNG plant, afterwards addresses a pivotal risk: a miss of a circuitously gas supply.

“The comprehensive over-abundance of gas in North America is so immeasurable that we have to find ways to get it off a continent,” a franchised accountant says over a late breakfast during Wilfrid’s grill in Ottawa’s Château Laurier Hotel, a retard from Parliament Hill.

“But a math is really challenging. You need incentives other than economics.”

Mr. Sorensen was visiting Ottawa progressing this month as partial of a broader bid to win support for a LNG business. Shortly afterward, a sovereign supervision announced a pivotal taxation break, permitting plan proponents to write off collateral costs during an accelerated pace.

The pivotal for any successful LNG project, Mr. Sorensen insists, is to line adult business who are also partners and who are fervent to safeguard a farrago of their possess appetite supply mix.

Early in a planning, Pieridae reached a understanding with hulk German focus E.ON AG that will see a association take half of a due 10 million tonnes of liquefied gas a Goldboro plant would produce. With E.ON’s backing, Mr. Sorensen afterwards cumulative a guarantee of loan guarantees from a German government, that is fervent to revoke a coherence on Russia for healthy gas. He expects to announce another vital European patron soon.

In a deficiency of an positive gas supply from Canada, he is negotiating with a vital writer in a large Marcellus margin centred in Pennsylvania, and has an focus solemnly operative a approach by a U.S. Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to trade a American gas by Canada.

Mr. Sorensen is a sequence businessman who is clearly ardent about tellurian attempt that rises above a typical or mundane. Whether chasing an extraordinary business deal, appreciating a artistic physicality of ballet, or listening to lectures from researchers during a University of Alberta, where he has standing as a vital donor, he revels in activities that pull behind boundaries.

Since violation into a business as a merchant with Direct Energy in a late eighties, Mr. Sorensen has started 3 appetite companies and is a vital shareholder and former arch executive officer of a fourth – a tiny gas producer, Canadian Spirit Resources Ltd.

“That trade genius is what guides my preference creation today: How do we take a conditions and spin it into a monetizable event?” he says over a breakfast of eggs Benedict and tea. “We’re experts during branch gas into cash. That’s what we consider about all a time – how to accomplish it.”

Mr. Sorensen attributes his toleration for risk to his newcomer parents. His carpenter father, Carl, came to Edmonton from Denmark a few years after a Second World War. To shun a level winter, Carl gathering with a crony to Acapulco – famous afterwards for attracting film stars and a jet set – and met his Mexican bride-to-be, Dolores, on a beach. She was from a well-to-do family yet changed north to back 4 children – Alfred is second oldest with 3 sisters – in middle-class Edmonton.

“I consider their knowledge taught me to be independent,” Mr. Sorensen says. “And to be a tiny doubtful during times as good – that what everybody is doing right now isn’t indispensably a right thing.”

Mr. Sorensen does not fit any classify of a Western oil executive. A bachelor during 53, he says he hereditary his passion for ballet from his mother, who helped to start a Alberta Ballet Company. He likes to prepare and garden, yet he admits that he’s not rarely learned during either.

He is also a stretch curtain and has finished 3 marathons and 10 half marathons. His final full one, 3 years ago, was by a wineries of a Médoc segment of France, with a second half of a competition interrupted by tastings. Last summer, he participated in his initial “Spartan Race,” as one of a handful of fiftysomethings. It was usually a five-kilometre march yet with 16 obstacles; it was “way harder than a marathon ever was,” he says.

He likens a mental toughness indispensable to finish a 42-kilometre run to a opinion compulsory to see an LNG plan by to completion.

“Mentally, it’s a same game,” he says. “Anyone can run a marathon – it depends on how many mental strength we have. … They’re really identical in that we can take a bigger competition and mangle it into smaller pieces and get to a subsequent square and afterwards work on a subsequent one and a subsequent one.”

Mr. Sorensen started his career on a required path. He graduated with a commerce grade from a University of Alberta, and went to work for one of a large accounting firms while he warranted his franchised accountant status.

He assimilated Direct Energy as an accountant yet fast changed over to a trade building during a time when healthy gas markets were newly deregulated. Within dual years, he and a co-worker left Direct Energy to start a organisation they called Continental Energy Marketing Ltd.

Continental became one of a premier companies trade healthy gas futures, and was acquired by a prototype of U.S. appetite hulk Duke Energy Co. After a acquisition, Mr. Sorensen stayed on to lead a firm’s bid to settle a European beachhead. And it was during that London army that he was introduced to a LNG business.

He got a call from a merchant who had a tanker full of liquefied healthy gas watchful outward a Belgian pier of Zeebrugge, who wanted to know possibly Duke would buy it. “I had no thought what he was articulate about,” he recalls.

But he did a investigate and left Duke in 2002 with a self-assurance that LNG was going to be a subsequent large thing in healthy gas commodity trading. He never did do a trade yet instead was approached about putting together a plan to import LNG, and co-founded Galveston LNG Inc., that started a Kitimat LNG plan now headed by Chevron Corp.

After radically removing forced out of Kitimat by Apache, Mr. Sorensen took a mangle to suffer his new happening yet found himself feeling dull and bored. His bottom came in 2011, when his tailor told him that he had a resting lifestyle of a “trophy wife.”

“It was really depressing, essence sapping,” he says. “I need to build and continue to learn and knowledge new things. It was not about a income – that was only a raise of income that meant zero to me. we favourite a thought of a chase.”

He assimilated Canadian Spirit Resources Inc. as CEO, yet it was a hilly road. The tiny scrutiny and prolongation association has some healthy gas properties in a Montney segment of northeastern B.C. Its biggest offered indicate is easy entrance to pipelines that will feed West Coast LNG projects, yet growth on a seashore has changed distant some-more solemnly than anticipated.

For all a doubt around Pieridae and a deficient internal gas supply to feed a liquefaction plant, Mr. Sorensen stays upbeat.

Pipeline companies are looking for capitulation to build ability into New England, that would bond with a reversible Maritime line that ends during Goldboro, where Nova Scotia’s fast disappearing offshore prolongation comes ashore. Marcellus producers have immeasurable quantities of healthy gas and are unfortunate for new markets. And European business are equally unfortunate for North American supply.

There are still copiousness of obstacles to overcome as Mr. Sorensen checks off some short-term goals in office of his long-term target. Having left a B.C. plan before a finish of a race, he is dynamic to see a finish line with Pieridae, rather than palm it over to unfamiliar interests.

“We need inhabitant champions in this country,” he says.

“I’m fiercely Canadian. We live in a really smashing nation that allows people who don’t have many to build something really quickly.”

The pursuits of Alfred Sorensen


He chairs a Alberta Ballet Foundation, that supports new works. He grown his appreciation for a art of dance as a teenager, when he was dragged to a ballet by his mom and 3 sisters. His favourites are Serenade and Jewels, dual masterpieces by famed choreographer George Balanchine. “In both cases, an implausible volume of earthy transformation occurs in a brief volume of time,” he says. “To me, that is what is many amazing, how all those bodies can be mutual and pierce during a same speed in comprehensive beauty.”


Though he admits to carrying “slacked off ” during 53, Mr. Sorensen still sees a personal tutor 4 times a week and is deliberation a friend’s ask to run a New York marathon this year. He has run 3 marathons and 10 half marathons.


After creation a $5-million present to his alma mater, a University of Alberta in Edmonton, Mr. Sorensen gained entrance into a “new universe of a university.” He served on a hunt cabinet for a new boss and is a member of a business advisory committee. He also attends a president’s dinner, where streamer researchers tell their stories. His favourite was a group operative on synthetic intelligence, that had taught a mechanism to play poker with an ability to respond to a other players.

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