Sunday, June 14, 2015

LNG Minister believes Pacific NorthWest LNG construction could start this fall

If the stars can align for LNG Minister Rich Coleman's hopes, then the North Coast should be a very busy place this fall, as the province's long desired LNG ambitions begin to bear some fruit.

Minister Coleman was making the media rounds on Friday, holding to his optimism of Thursday's developments on proposed LNG development in Northwest BC.

The Minister provided a rough sketch of the timeline ahead for the BC government's end of the recent Memorandum of Understanding with Petronas, noting that the BC Legislature will most likely be recalled in July to review the full document and then to vote on the MOU, which is one of the two conditions that Pacific Northwest outlined last week in their conditional investment decision.

The rare summer session of the Legislature will allow for review of the proposed legislation and debate, something which will provide ample opportunity for the NDP opposition, including North Coast MLA Jennifer Rice, to look through the agreement and offer up their thoughts related to the path for LNG that it would deliver.

That being said, the Liberal government does hold a majority in the Legislature, so the passage of the legislation should be but a summer session formality.

Coleman however, acknowledged that the environmental assessment is a process that is very much out of the hands of the provincial government, noting that the CEAA had recently provided five additional conditions to Pacific NorthWest LNG a week ago.

As Vaughn Palmer of the Vancouver explained in his column of Saturday, while Coleman remains optimistic about the outcome of the much anticipated project, any further environmental assessment setbacks and time, could combine to work against any idea of a fall start up of construction planning and in a worst case scenario for the Provincial government could derail the entire project.

Should the environmental agency deliver a report, whether with, or without conditions, there is still a thirty day public input period to be started before any cabinet decision can be made on the proposed development.

LNG Minister Rich Coleman is
hopeful of a fall start for the
Lelu Island LNG terminal
If the timeline of that input period runs into the fall election period, any decision related to the proposed LNG development would have to be suspended to wait for a new government.

Something which depending on the outcome of the Federal election of the fall could affect the timeline of construction, or even the nature of the entire proposal.

Beyond those two issues, Mr. Coleman also outlined that engagement with First Nations, including Lax Kw'alaams continues as the government looks to address a range of issues related to LNG development.

The LNG minister reviewed how discussions continue on with the Lax Kw'alaams and how he believes that there has been a lot of work done since the highly publicized votes rejecting the Petronas benefit package of last month.

Coleman noted that while the Lax Kw'alaams First Nation wants the economic development, they still have concerns related to the fishery and that there is additional work being done on the proposal to accommodate those concerns.

More on the Minister's thoughts to the Sun on all of the issues related to the Pacific Northwest project can be found here.

For the most part Friday's media availability has delivered a number of stories related to the prospect of the construction process getting under way by the fall and the impact that the Terminal development will have for the province and the energy industry.

You can review some of those items below:

Financial Post -- Why the go-ahead for Pacific NorthWest LNG is a big shot in the arm for Canada's energy industry
News 1130 -- LNG project construction in Prince Rupert could begin later this year: minister
Victoria Times Colonist -- Petronas LNG go ahead seen as good sign for other West Coast projects
Globe and Mail -- Petronas gets environmental road map for Pacific NorthWest LNG

For more background on the Pacific NorthWest LNG proposal for Lelu Island see our archive page here.

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