Provincial environmental assessment certificates have been approved for B.C.'s flagship liquefied natural gas export project at the Port of Prince Rupert and two pipelines proposed to connect the region to gas fields in northeastern B.C. to the North Coast.
The $11.4 billion project led by the Malaysian state-owned energy corporation PETRONAS is aiming to make its final investment decision by the end of this year. One of the certificates issued is for the Prince Rupert Gas Transmission pipeline, proposed to run 900 km from Hudson's Hope to the PETRONAS Pacific NorthWest LNG terminal.
The LNG port and pipelines must still receive federal, provincial and local government permits before they can begin construction. The Pacific NorthWest LNG terminal at Lelu Island is still undergoing federal environment assessment, having received an extension to deal with potential salmon habitat impacts at the mouth of the Skeena River.
Natural Gas Development Minister Rich Coleman visited Malaysia this month at the invitation of PETRONAS officials to go over their project.
PETRONAS is leading a consortium that includes Chinese, Japanese, Indian and Brunei investors for a pipeline and LNG processing in northern B.C. PETRONAS paid $5 billion last year to take over Progress Energy Canada, which has major shale gas holdings in northeast B.C. and Alberta.
Pacific NorthWest LNG received another boost last week when the Nisga'a Nation signed a benefits agreement with the B.C. government for the project. The B.C. and Nisga'a legislatures are passing amendments to allow the Prince Rupert Gas Transmission pipeline to pass through Nisga'a Memorial Lava Bed Park.
The other certificate is for the Westcoast Connector Gas Transmission pipeline proposed to run from the Fort St. John area to another LNG terminal at Ridley Island. That project is led by BG Group, which has signalled it may delay development because of new gas supplies from U.S. sites where the British-based company also has LNG export plans.