Two pipelines, both of which would have to traverse the Skeena River west of Terrace in some fashion, surface in a multi-billion petroleum refinery proposal released last week.
The pipelines, one for gasoline and the other for diesel, would extend 120 kilometres from the proposed Pacific Future Energy Corporation refinery location on the Dubose Flats between Terrace and Kitimat north to an undefined marine export terminal location on the Portland Inlet on the coast north of Prince Rupert.
“Early third-party studies suggest a marine terminal could be situated along the Portland Inlet, in the event such a development were to secure the support of a host First Nation,” indicates a project description submitted to federal and provincial regulators.
“If such a marine terminal were to be developed, we anticipate that two (one for gasoline and one for diesel) short (120 km) pipelines, developed in partnership with First Nations along the route, could be built to support the marine terminal’s operations,” the project description reads.
Pacific Future official Don MacLachlan, speaking last week, was confident a river crossing could be accomplished.
“New techniques for putting a pipeline under rivers and lakes are proven,” said MacLachlan in emailed comments.
Should Pacific Future be successful in its $15 billion refinery plan and should those pipelines be constructed, the company anticipates Panamax-size ships being used to transport gasoline and diesel to overseas markets.
This term refers to the size limit for cargo ships passing through the Panama Canal with a maximum length of 950 feet, a width of 106 feet and 189 feet in height, according to online specs.
The potential Portland Inlet export terminal location stands in contrast to other planned petroleum product ones which instead feature Kitimat as the location for loading tankers.
In particular, Enbridge’s Northern Gateway plan to export crude oil from a Kitimat terminal has been criticized by those who are not convinced tanker traffic would be viable coming up and then leaving that area via the Douglas Channel.
“I do know we have absolutely no thought or intention of shipping down Douglas Channel,” said MacLachlan.
No other potential marine export terminals are mentioned in the Pacific Future proposal.
First Nations with traditional territory leading north from the Dubose Flats would include the Kitselas First Nation (the Dubose area itself is within its traditional territory) and the Kitsumkalum First Nation.
Portland Inlet is just under 60 kilometres north of Prince Rupert and it drains the Portland Canal (Stewart is at its head) and the Nass River area which is within Nisga’a treaty lands and lands over which the Nisga’a have an influence.
Pacific Future’s suggestion of Portland Inlet as a marine export terminal location would not be the first for that area.
In 2014 the Nisga’a Lisims Government began promoting four locations in that area as ones suitable for either fixed or floating liquefied natural gas facilities along with tanker loading components.
Those would be fed by branching off of a proposed natural gas pipeline coming in to the Nass Valley from the east and ultimately destined for a proposed liquefied natural gas project near Prince Rupert.