Provincial NDP opposition leader John Horgan says he has doubts about two of the liquefied natural gas (LNG) projects being planned for the Prince Rupert area.
Speaking at a stop in Terrace as part of a northwest tour last week, Horgan noted that one company, the BG Group, has already announced its delaying plans for a large LNG plant on Ridley Island.
“I think they’re done,” said Horgan of the BG Group’s project called Prince Rupert LNG which would involve a facility capable of producing 21 million tonnes of LNG a year.
BG Group’s initial plans had forecast a construction period of two phases beginning in 2016.
But it announced late last month that it is delaying its Prince Rupert decision because of its involvement in more advanced LNG developments in the United States.
The company has two projects underway in the United States, one in Louisiana and the other in Texas.
Horgan also focussed on the Pacific NorthWest LNG project, which has as its majority owner the Malaysian-stated owned Petronas company, and which is slated for a location on Lelu Island within the District of Port Edward’s jurisdiction.
The location has just come under criticism from a number of aboriginal groups and some local residents for potential impacts on the Skeena River’s salmon populations.
The project is under a provincial environmental review and Petronas recently received a 45-day extension of that review to conduct more work.
“The Skeena River’s got some salmon in it,” said Horgan of the importance of the river to the region.
He did note that the review will shed more light on the impacts of the planned project on the Skeena River estuary and its salmon-hosting role.
In some ways, Horgan said the prospects of LNG development in Kitimat are more favourable than around Prince Rupert.
One LNG project at Kitimat, called Kitimat LNG, has a substantial buy-in from aboriginal groups.
That includes the Haisla at Kitamaat Village on whose lands the plant will be built and from virtually all of the First Nations who have territory over which a natural gas pipeline would run to supply the facility.
And this month’s announcement that the other major LNG project at Kitimat, called Canada LNG, had entered its own 180-day environmental review was greeted warmly by both Haisla chief councillor Ellis Ross and Art Sterritt, executive director of Coastal First Nations.
“I think LNG in Kitimat before Prince Rupert,” commented Horgan.
But he also highlighted a small LNG proposal at Squamish, north of Vancouver where a company called Woodfibre LNG wants to build a facility on a former pulp mill site.
That means it’s an existing brownfield site in terms of impact and it has a natural gas pipeline coming to the property already and ready connections to BC Hydro power.
In general, Horgan said he’s skeptical that any LNG industry which might locate in the province will come anywhere close to the BC Liberal government’s promise of enough money to pay off the provincial debt and build up a $100 billion legacy fund.
“There’s a lot of stress on the industry right now,” said Horgan.
With the price of oil dropping and because the price of gas is tied to the price of oil in overseas markets, revenues may not match expenses, he said.