Several companies express interest in Goldboro lands

GOLDBORO — With a major parcel of land about to change hands in the Goldboro Industrial Park, the Municipality of the District of Guysborough (MODG) is on the cusp of a new wave of economic development, especially from renewables, says MODG’s Chief Administrative Officer Barry Carroll.

“We’ve never seen so many opportunities before,” he told The Journal in an interview last week. “There is a high degree of interest in Goldboro ... and throughout the municipality.”

Carroll’s comments came following disclosure last week that Calgary-based Pieridae Energy has applied to the Nova Scotia Utility and Review Board (NSUARB) to transfer its permit at the park – where it planned to build an LNG facility until last year, before it abandoned the project – to a numbered Nova Scotia company whose president, Sam Roche-Perks, is also the co-founder and director of Simply Blue Group, a green fuels developer based in Ireland.

According to the NSUARB application, obtained by The Journal, the request for consent to transfer permit issued under Gas Plant Facility Regulations (Nova Scotia) is pursuant to an asset purchase agreement dated February 16, 2024, between the buyer, 4574030 Nova Scotia Limited, and Pieridae.

Pieridae had purchased the 267-acre plot of land from MODG in 2015, hoping to construct a $10-billion natural gas production and processing plant before the company decided that the global market and financing conditions rendered the project uneconomical. The company put the property on the block late last year.

“While [it] has advanced negotiations and is confident [these] will lead to a successful sale, that outcome remains uncertain, and we cannot disclose additional details,” Sophie Schneider, company communications specialist, told The Journal in early April.

In an email last week, she reiterated that message.

“While the company has entered detailed discussions with one or more counterparties and government authorities, there is no certainty at this time that a successful transaction will result. Pieridae will provide further material disclosure on this matter to stakeholders as appropriate.”

But in a separate email to The Journal last week, Sara Dymond, group communications director of Simply Blue Group, stated: “Simply Blue Group has an established hydrogen sustainable fuels division and has an interest in early-stage development in Ireland, Australia and Canada, particularly in Nova Scotia, where we believe there is significant opportunity in terms of competitive renewable energy generation and hydrogen production.”

Carroll declined to comment on the specifics of the Pieridae sale, apart from acknowledging that “we are aware that they [Pieridae] are in the process of selling their property, and it appears from what we are reading through the NSUARB process that Simply Blue Group are interested in that property.”

Still, he added: “Separate from all of that, we’re dealing with more than one company on other lands in Goldboro. We’re in ongoing discussions with several companies.”

He noted that the 850-acre Goldboro Industrial Park – 400 acres of which MODG owns outright – is strategically positioned to exploit new economic development opportunities, particularly by the burgeoning renewable energy industry.

Among its competitive advantages, according to the municipal website, are are low land, construction, and labour costs. It’s also proximally located to the province’s recently decommissioned natural gas pipeline corridor, through which as much as five gigawatts of new offshore wind power could flow by 2030, thanks to the provincial government’s recent call for license bids.

This summer, the municipality issued a request for expressions of interest to ascertain private-sector demand for its properties in the Goldboro Industrial Park. “Recently, there’s been a lot of interest in wind opportunities both on and offshore,” MODG Deputy Chief Administrative Officer Shawn Andrews told The Journal’s Corey LeBlanc in August. “The goal is to determine who is prepared to move beyond the ‘kick the tires’ stage ... We want to accomplish as much as we can.”

Shortly after that, in October, the MODG added to its industrial land base by acquiring ExxonMobil’s decommissioned Sable gas plant in the park. The fully “site-prepped” lot – including a parking lot, an 11,000-square-foot warehouse, perimeter fencing, power connections, water wells and a septic system – gives the MODG options, Warden Vernon Pitts told The Journal at the time. “It’s fully secure and the warehouse is in exceptionally good shape. Hopefully, this will morph into some other form of development,” including “wind opportunities” or other industries.

Finally, earlier this month, MODG advertised for the services of a “qualified firm” to complete a community opportunity readiness program for several large-scale industrial developments, including “multiple renewable energy projects” throughout the municipality.

Said Carrol last week: “We haven’t finalized negotiations – contracts or potential sales agreements – but we’re doing our best to keep up with everything.”

Alec Bruce, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Guysborough Journal