Feds Approve Pacific NorthWest LNG Project for B.C.’s North Coast
Alberta Premier Rachel Notley “encouraged” by the federal government’s approval, but remains focused on getting an oil export pipeline built
The Liberal government of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has given conditional approval to the $36-billion Pacific NorthWest LNG project for British Columbia’s north coast, marking one of the largest planned infrastructure investments in Canadian history.
The project, led by Malaysia’s state-owned energy giant Petronas, would ship an estimated 19 million tonnes of liquefied natural gas (LNG) per year to Asian markets from a port near Prince Rupert, B.C.
The gas would be sourced from northeastern B.C. and shipped via TransCanada pipeline to the new port terminal. But the project’s proponents have yet to take a final investment decision on the plan, while the federal government has attached 190 legally binding conditions to its approval, including a greenhouse gas emissions cap.
At Tuesday’s announcement, B.C. Premier Christy Clark, a longtime booster of B.C.’s LNG potential, said the province has as much energy stored in natural gas as Alberta has in oil. Premier Clark has indicated that she is willing to raise the province’s carbon tax to bring it in line with the looming federal-provincial carbon plan, once that plan is announced.
In a statement Tuesday, Pacific NorthWest LNG said it was pleased with the government’s announcement. “Moving forward, Pacific NorthWest LNG and our shareholders will conduct a total project review over the coming months prior to announcing next steps for the project,” said Pacific NorthWest LNG president and CEO Adnan Zainal Abidin.
Alberta Premier Rachel Notley told reporters Wednesday she was “encouraged” by the federal government’s willingness to approve the B.C. resource-export project, but said her government remains wholly focused on getting an oil export pipeline built to the Canadian coast.
Environmentalists and First Nations opponents of the LNG plant were quick to condemn the federal government’s approval.
This won’t be the only tough call the federal Liberal cabinet has to make on resource projects in the coming months. The government will decide by mid-December whether to green-light the expansion of Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain oil pipeline from Edmonton to Burnaby, B.C., an issue that has stirred up protests from environmental groups, First Nations and municipal governments along the existing pipeline route.
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